Dealing with Stress as a Caregiver
National Family Caregivers Month
November is National Family Caregivers Month, so it is the perfect time to take a moment to appreciate the hard work and dedication of family caregivers throughout the country. Many family caregivers are constantly performing their duties for a loved one with little time for themselves, so it’s appropriate that 2017’s theme is ‘Caregiving Around the Clock’.
Life as a caregiver is full of ups and downs, especially when done full-time with little respite. However, anyone that takes the time to become a caregiver for an elderly parent knows how important their role is, doing it with little complaint.
Yet things will understandably get stressful from time to time. Not everyone has caregiving in them, let alone doing it around the clock, but it can certainly help to know what can be done to make the process easier for you and your loved ones.
The importance of dealing with stress as a caregiver
Stress is a common issue for most caregivers. Caring for someone around the clock is a hard task, and while you are certainly capable of dealing with it (probably better than you initially thought) you will likely encounter many different feelings throughout the caring process.
For instance, you may feel angry that you are not receiving help from others, or it could be feelings of sadness and pain at seeing someone that you love becoming so weak and frail. Regardless of what you’re feeling, there is a good chance that these emotions make you feel very stressed as a caregiver.
Not dealing with stress is dangerous for your own physical and mental well-being, so it’s important to address it as it could end up having a negative impact on your ability to provide care, even causing tension with other members of your family.
If you find yourself becoming easily irritated, constantly tired, and have a general impatience with others, there is a good chance you are feeling the effects of stress. Thankfully, there are many ways to effectively deal with the stress of around the clock caregiving.
Eat well and try to rest as much as you can
Starting your day with a lack of sleep or good food only makes the upcoming day more difficult, adding to the stress you already feel. Eating a healthier diet provides you with the nutrients to feel full and energized, which should make caregiving less tiring and more manageable.
If you are struggling to get regular sleep because of your caregiving responsibilities, enlisting the help of others is always recommended. Consider asking a family member to take over from your roles every now and then, giving you the chance to catch up on rest even doing this sparingly can have a great effect on reducing fatigue.
Even the smallest amount of exercise can make a big difference towards feelings of stress. When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins that make us feel better, helping to improve our mental well-being and even aiding towards a good night’s sleep.
Feeling good and rested is a very effective way to alleviate stress and anxiety you are feeling from caregiving around the clock, so it’s worth taking the time to exercise whenever possible.
Now, this may difficult for many caregivers because they need to care for the person and balance their own life, but finding the time can make a massive difference towards reducing stress. Even going for a short work every day or two should lower feelings of tension and make your body feel that bit better.
Take time for yourself
Every caregiver needs some time for themselves, otherwise the stress and other negative feelings with never go away, so it’s important to take some time for yourself. It doesn’t have to be something major like a weekend getaway – even just a regular day off makes all the difference.
Ask someone to take over for a day so you can have some time to do the things you enjoy. It can really help lower stress levels and make you feel less resentful of caregiving around the clock, so be sure to try this if you’re feeling like you get no time for you – it’s not selfish so don’t feel guilty about needing some you time.