4 Tips To Cope With Caregiver Stress
Caregivers are very prone to stress. How could they not be? Theirs is not a full time job, it’s a 24/7 occupation. And it’s not a very rewarding one at that, at least in financial terms. Of course, most caregivers don’t do it for the money. In fact, the majority of them are so imbued in what they do that they fail to recognize the symptoms of caregiver stress, such as feeling tired most of the time, feeling overwhelmed and irritable, sleeping too much or not enough, gaining or losing too much weight, and losing interest in once joyful activities, amongst others. Ask yourself this, if you can’t take care of yourself, how are you going to take care of others? Take note of these tips so you can continue your labor of love.
With a little help from your friends. As a care giver you may feel that a lot is expected from you, but true as that may be, you don’t have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders either. Remain open to sharing your workload with those who are willing to lend a helping hand. It’s important to be able to delegate, but don’t impose tasks on other people.
Don’t book yourself a guilt trip. Accepting and even asking for help doesn’t mean that you’re weak or that you’re doing a bad job. Few people have as many responsibilities as a caregiver, so you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself if you forget to water the plants or clean the fridge in for a couple of days.
Don’t let yourself go. You do need to set some time aside to tend to yourself though. Make sure you engage in physical activity even if it’s only 15 minutes a day, and get a good night’s sleep at least once or twice every week. Visit your doctor and let him know that you’re a caregiver in general, and of any unusual symptoms you may be experiencing in particular.
Look for outside support. Whether it is spending time with (healthy) friends and relatives, or joining a support group, it’s important to stay socially active, as well as get some sun and fresh air in open spaces. There may even be a time when you need to break from care giving altogether; like in most relationships some time apart is good for both parties. In the meantime you can leave your patient in good hands at adult care centers, day hospitals, or short-term nursing homes. It’s also possible to hire the services of a health care aid to take over for you.
Even if you devote yourself to care giving only, that’s already a lot on your plate. But if you also have a day job, then you’re even more susceptible to caregiver stress, and stress in general, period. If you ever wonder what the person you care for would do without you, then make sure that that situation never arises.