Managing caregiver stress: How to take care of yourself
When it comes to keeping your loved ones safe and well, it’s easy to put their needs before your own. But if you aren’t intentional about tending to your own well-being, you won’t be able to give your best to someone else.
“Caregiver burden,” is the emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion that comes with caring for a loved one who is aging, disabled, or ill. A variety of factors can lead to your stress, including financial strain, lack of social activities, and juggling so many responsibilities at once.
It may be time to refocus if you’re experiencing:
- Anger, irritability, anxiety, or depression
- Frequent body aches or headaches
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Weakened immune system
- Withdrawal from family, friends, and activities
Identifying these signs early gives you a head start in managing your stress before it becomes overwhelming.
Learning how to cope
1. Manage stress with self-care.
Make taking care of yourself a top priority. Self-care helps you maintain a positive attitude and prevent burnout. It includes making time to exercise, eat healthily, get enough sleep, and see your doctor for regular check-ups or screenings.
You also need time to relax, recharge, and enjoy life. Take time every day to do something that makes you happy, like gardening, listening to music, or spending time with friends. Other self-care methods include practicing stress-relief techniques like deep breathing exercises, massage, meditation, or yoga.
2. Stay organized.
Keep essential information, like medication schedules and doctor’s appointments, organized and easily accessible. Set reminders on your phone or computer to help you remember appointments and tasks. Consider using a calendar or task list system that works best for you, whether it’s electronic or on paper.
3. Set realistic goals and expectations.
Recognize your limits and prioritize your tasks. Focus on what’s most important and know when to ask for help.
4. Get support.
You don’t have to do everything by yourself. Ask for—and accept—help from coworkers, family members, friends, or neighbors with tasks like cleaning, cooking, shopping, and driving to doctor’s appointments.
Also, consider joining a support group because it helps to talk to other people going through similar experiences.
5. Learn to say no.
One of the biggest caregiver challenges is saying no. It’s important to recognize that setting boundaries is okay–after all, you can’t do everything. Learning to say no can reduce stress and help you manage your time more efficiently.
6. Use respite care.
Take advantage of respite care services that provide professional caregivers to step in and care for your loved one. This allows you to take a well-deserved break and recharge.
7. Seek professional help.
When caregiver stress affects your health, relationships, or work, contact your doctor or a therapist. They have the resources and tools to help you manage your stress.
Ready to make yourself a priority?
As a caregiver, taking care of yourself and prioritizing your own health is essential. Left unchecked, caregiver stress can affect your ability to provide effective and compassionate care—and increase the risk of accidents or errors.
At Traditions Health, we understand the challenges of caregiving. Our team of compassionate healthcare professionals provides diagnosis-specific education and medication management to empower you and your loved one to better manage their health.
Contact us today to learn more about our services.
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