(KXNET) — April is National Stress Awareness Month and stress has long-term health effects if you don’t take steps to manage it, it doesn’t just alter your mood.

According to a news release, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) wants to give people who deal with the stressful task of taking care of a family member with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia-related illness six steps to reduce stress.

“Finding ways to manage and reduce stress is of paramount importance for every Alzheimer’s caregiver — untreated stress over a prolonged period of time can lead to caregiver burnout and a host of other health issues,” said AFA’s Director of Educational and Social Services, Jennifer Reed, LCSW. “Caregivers need to take care of themselves so they can provide the best possible care for their loved ones. National Stress Awareness Month is a great time for caregivers to be proactive about managing and reducing their stress and make an investment in self-care that will benefit them and their love for whom they are caring.”

These are the six steps people can do to take control and manage their stress, which can reduce it in the long run.

  1. Be adaptable and positive
    • Your attitude influences your stress level not only for you but for the person you’re taking care of.
    • Becoming aggravated or agitated will only increase the chances that that person will too.
  2. Deal with what you can control
    • Some things are just out of your control. But what you can control, is how you respond and react.
    • Concentrate on finding a solution to make the problem less stressful.
  3. Set realistic goals and go slow
    • Not everything can be solved at once or right away, and it doesn’t need to be either.
    • Prioritize things, set goals, do your best to achieve them, and take things one day at a time.
  4. Mind your health
    • Poor rest, diet, and exercise can all lead to stress and other health problems.
    • Make it a priority to sleep, eat right, drink water, and find ways to be active.
    • You can’t take care of others if you can’t take care of yourself.
  5. Clear and refresh your mind
    • You can do this by exercising, doing yoga, meditating, listening to music, or taking a few breaths.
    • Find something that works for you and do it regularly.
  6. Share your feelings
    • Disconnecting from others and bottling things up can increase stress levels.
    • Don’t be afraid to talk with a loved one, a trusted friend, or a professional.

The AFA Helpline is available every day of the week with information and support regarding caregiver stress and other questions.

You can call a licensed social worker at (866) 232-8484, online, or by texting (646) 586-5283.