Caregiver stress: Tips for taking care of yourself

Caregiver stress: Tips for taking care of yourself
cited in:
Severe to Profound Intellectual Disability: Circles of Care and Education
University of Cape Town. October 2019.

Stress Management > Mountain pose


Toxic Stress Derails Healthy Development

3. Toxic Stress Derails Healthy Development
Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University
Sep 29, 2011

Learning how to cope with adversity is an important part of healthy development. While moderate, short-lived stress responses in the body can promote growth, toxic stress is the strong, unrelieved activation of the body’s stress management system in the absence of protective adult support. Without caring adults to buffer children, the unrelenting stress caused by extreme poverty, neglect, abuse, or severe maternal depression can weaken the architecture of the developing brain, with long-term consequences for learning, behavior, and both physical and mental health.

This video is part three of a three-part series titled “Three Core Concepts in Early Development” from the Center and the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. The series depicts how advances in neuroscience, molecular biology, and genomics now give us a much better understanding of how early experiences are built into our bodies and brains, for better or for worse. Healthy development in the early years provides the building blocks for educational achievement, economic productivity, responsible citizenship, lifelong health, strong communities, and successful parenting of the next generation.

Also from the “Three Core Concepts in Early Development” Series

1. Experiences Build Brain Architecture:

2. Serve & Return Interaction Shapes Brain Circuitry:

For more information, please visit:

Tend and Befriend

the play-dead reaction that we often go into in the face of overwhelming stress.
There’s another one called tend and befriend, which is not as well researched as fight or flight, but deals with our propensity to use our social supports in times of stress.

Behavioral Medicine: A Key to Better Health
Karolinska Institutet. November 2016


Exhaustion syndrome

Exhaustion syndrome:

  • Cognitive problems
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Tiredness, exhaustion (a lack of energy which you cannot restore by rest)
  • Vegetative symptoms
  • Neuromuscular symptoms
  • Psychic symptoms (e.g. a serious anxiety state or depression)

Section 2: Stress and coping > Stress – physical and mental effects > Cardinal symptoms of exhaustion disorder:

  • sleep impairment
  • problem with memory and concentration
  • emotional and physical fatigue

Behavioral Medicine: A Key to Better Health
Karolinska Institutet. November 2016

One of the most stressful professions

Nurses Say Stress Interferes With Caring For Their Patients
April 15, 2016

a 2007 study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that 24 percent of ICU nurses and 14 percent of general nurses tested positive for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Nursing has long been considered one of the most stressful professions, according to a review of research by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2012. Nurses and researchers say it comes down to organizational problems in hospitals worldwide. That includes cuts in staffing …

Alleviating Job Stress in Nurses
Rashaun Roberts, PhD; Paula L. Grubb, PhD; James W. Grosch, MBA, PhD
June 25, 2012

James Coan at TEDx

Midlife Friendship Key To A Longer, Healthier Life
March 16, 2016

When a person is alone or holding a stranger’s hand as she anticipates the shock, the regions of the brain that process danger, quote, “light up like a Christmas tree.” But when holding the hand of a trusted person, the brain grows quiet.

JAMES COAN: And what we think happens is having a friend with you alters the perception of that threat.
friends are key to our survival, not just emotionally but biologically.


Yerkes-Dodson Principle

Yerkes-Dodson Principle

Harvard’s Robert M. Yerkes, M.D. and John D. Dodson, M.D. first described this relationship between stress and performance in 1908.  The Yerkes-Dodson Principle implies that to a certain point, a specific amount of stress is healthy, useful, and even beneficial. This usefulness can be translated not only to performance but also to one’s health and well-being.

The stimulus of the stress  response is often essential for success. We see this commonly in various situations such as sporting events, academic pursuits and even in many creative and social activities. As stress levels increase, so does performance. However, this relationship between increased stress and increased performance does not continue indefinitely. As shown in Figure 1.1, the Yerkes-Dodson Curve illustrates that to a point, stress or arousal can increase performance. Conversely, when stress exceeds one’s ability to cope, this overload contributes to diminished performance, inefficiency, and even health problems.
The pressure/performance curve
University College London

The human function curve. With special reference to cardiovascular disorders: part I.
Practitioner. 1976 Nov;217(1301):765-70.
Nixon PG.

The Human Function Curve – A model for integrative practice
P.G.F Nixon, Charing Cross Hospital, London, England
International Research Workshop on Stress, heart disease and cancer
Tampa, Fla. 4-7 December 1983
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The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale

The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale
Understanding the Impact of Long-term Stress

perhaps the most useful and widely accepted definition of stress (mainly attributed to Richard S. Lazarus) is this: Stress is a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that “demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.” In less formal terms, we feel stressed when we feel that “things are out of control”.

The Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS), more commonly known as the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, was created to do just that. This tool helps us measure the stress load we carry, and think about what we should do about it.

“The Social Readjustment Rating Scale”, Thomas H. Holmes and Richard H. Rahe, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Volume 11, Issue 2, August 1967, Pages 213-218

cited by:
Primeros Auxilios Psicológicos
Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona.