Dealing with Stress as a Caregiver: 3 Tips to Get You Through
Caregiving is an exhausting and challenging role to shoulder. It can strain even the most resilient people. Currently, one in three adults in the United States are informal caregivers for their loved ones (MayoClinic). This new set of challenges and changes can lead to a burden of stress that many feel under-equipped to handle.
If you've suddenly (or slowly) found yourself providing care for a loved one, here are some tips to help you manage stress in the midst of draining and challenging circumstances.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
It is normal to experience a wide breadth of feelings when becoming a caregiver. You may feel anger, compassion, frustration, exhaustion, grief, and more. It is okay to take a moment and acknowledge what you are feeling as you enter this new season. Your life was likely interrupted, your daily rhythms undone by another person, your personal hobbies set aside, and your family dynamics changed. It would be abnormal to not feel grief, frustration, and even anger during these seasons. You may feel frustrated at the inability of the person you are giving to care to understand that you're trying to help them or you may feel frustrated with a lack of gratitude for what you are sacrificing for them. Whatever feelings you experience, it is helpful to take some time to sort through your emotions and acknowledge them. Ignoring and repressing feelings can lead to emotional burnout and even potential health problems (National Library of Medicine). You may want to consider going to counseling to help process and work through the emotions and challenges becoming a caregiver has brought into your life.
If you have people in your life who can rally around you in this time, accept their help. You may be used to doing many things on your own, but it often becomes necessary to let someone else step in and take over roles and responsibilities you used to handle without challenge. Everything from grocery shopping to unloading the dishwasher may be responsibilities to rearrange among your close family members and friends. If you don't have a community to help shoulder some of these burdens, consider connecting with a neighborhood community forum to ask neighbors if they would be willing to help with lawn mowing or other activities that would relieve some of the burden you are shouldering. Your budget may also need to change to include paying for services that you wouldn't have consider before like house cleaning, lawn mowing, or grocery delivery. Caregivers can't do it all, so you may need to sort through which responsibilities in your life can be given to others or hired to be taken care of. There are caregiving resources in many communities, so consider reaching out to local organizations to find the support you need.
Make Time for Self-Care
Often, taking time for yourself is one of the first activities that is sacrificed when becoming a care-giver. It may feel impossible to make time for yourself, but research shows that taking care of your emotional and physical health will help prevent burnout, depression, anxiety, and can increase focus, and reduce heart disease risk (Southern New Hampshire University). There are a number of small and large things you can do to care for your mental and emotional health. Consider going for a daily walk, practice breathing exercises, read a book for fun, take a bath, invite a friend over, or do an activity that brings you a moment of peace or joy. Whatever will fill your cup, make time for those things in the midst of the new responsibilities you've taken on.
The Cedars Retirement Community
There may come a time when you don't feel you can provide the on-going care your loved one needs. It's okay to recognize your limits and reach out for support. The Cedars Retirement Community has a range of services to help support you in caring for your loved one. From independent living arrangements to hospice care, The Cedars' team of caring individuals will make your loved one's health and well-being their priority. Reach out today to schedule a visit or learn more.