When caring for a loved one, the process can be both a rewarding and stressful experience. It often involves shifting family dynamics, financial changes, and an increased workload. Because of this, it is not uncommon for caregivers to experience increased feelings of stress and burnout. Without support, these feelings can lead to emotional and physical problems like heart disease and depression. To avoid these issues, it’s important to recognize the need for help and support to relieve some of the stress. Here are some practical ways to accomplish this:
1. Ask for Help
Caregivers often find themselves taking on too much and not wanting to burden others with our responsibilities. However, this common problem can quickly lead to feelings of being overwhelmed and helpless. Speak up and let family and friends know that you need some assistance. Additionally, when someone does offer to provide help, don’t be afraid to accept it. Keep in mind that this also means having to relinquish complete control of the situation, which can be challenging.
2. Take Breaks
Busy caregivers often don’t have much leisure time to themselves. However, not making this element a priority could be counterproductive in the long run. If necessary, dedicate this time in a calendar and ask someone to help fill in for you (see the paragraph above and ask for help with this item) and take the time to rest from the list of caregiver responsibilities. After this rest time, energy and focus will be improved, increasing attitude and productivity.
3. Make Health a Priority
When a caregiver fails to make their health a priority, that will ultimately result in not being able to provide the level of care their loved one needs. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy, regular doctor visits, and exercise are essential components that keep a caregiver feeling great and energized.
4. Find Support
Depending on the situation, caregiving can become a lonely place. But that doesn’t have to be the case, as there are many other caregivers out there that are dealing with similar situations and they can become an excellent resource. There are also support groups available (both in-person and online) that focus on discussing and listening to others’ who know and understand what caregiving entails. These groups can provide comfort from those feelings of lonesomeness as well as education and insight on care and specific diseases.
5. Accept the Situation
It is easy to find ourselves in a trap of feeling frustrated or mad about the caregiving situation, continuously asking why something like this has happened. That energy is being wasted and doesn’t help improve caregiving abilities. Instead, try to accept the situation and use it as a tool to build personal strength, depth, and understanding.
In conclusion, when stress and burnout set in, it puts the caregiver at risk of not being able to provide adequate care. That impacts both the caregiver and the person being cared for. The bottom line is that managing the health and well-being of a caregiver is equally as important as making sure a family member takes their medication and gets to their doctor appointments on time.