Caring for others can cause stress for even the most resilient people. If you’re a carer, especially during these uncertain times, it is important you you to take steps to preserve your own health and well-being.
Caregiving is rewarding but stressful
Caregiving can have many rewards. For most caregivers, being there when someone needs you is a core value and something you wish to provide.
But a shift in emotions can often occur. It is natural to feel angry, frustrated, exhausted, alone or sad. Caregiver stress — the emotional and physical stress of caregiving — is common.
Signs of caregiver stress
As a carer, you may be so focused on those in your care that you don’t realise that your own health and wellbeing are suffering. Watch for these signs :
- Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
- Feeling tired often
- Getting too much sleep or not enough sleep
- Gaining or losing weight
- Becoming easily irritated or angry
- Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Feeling sad
- Having frequent headaches, bodily pain or other physical problems
Too much stress, especially over a long time, can harm your health. As a carer, you’re more likely to experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. In addition, you may not get enough sleep or physical activity, or eat a balanced diet due to your working hours— which increases your risk of medical problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Strategies for dealing with caregiver stress
The emotional and physical demands involved with caregiving can strain even the most resilient person. That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of the many resources available to help you provide care. Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for anyone else.
To help manage stress:
- Accept help. Make a list of ways that others can help you. A friend or family member may be able to run an errand, pick up your groceries or cook for you.
- Focus on what you are able to provide. It’s normal to feel guilty sometimes, but understand that no one is a “perfect” carer. Believe that you are doing the best you can and making the best decisions you can at any given time.
- Set realistic goals. Break large tasks into smaller steps that you can do one at a time. Prioritise, make lists and establish a daily routine. Begin to say no to requests that are draining.
- Get connected. Find out about carers resources in your community. Many communities have classes and resources. Caregiving services such as transportation, meal delivery or housekeeping may also be available, especially during the Covid-19 epidemic.
- Join a support group. A support group can provide validation and encouragement, as well as problem-solving strategies for difficult situations. People in support groups understand what you may be going through. A support group can also be a good place to create meaningful friendships. Many groups can be found on Facebook.
- Seek social support. Make an effort to stay well-connected with family and friends who can offer nonjudgmental emotional support. Set aside time each week for connecting, even if it’s just a walk with someone in your household.
- Set personal health goals. For example, set goals to establish a good sleep routine, find time to be physically active on most days of the week, eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water. Many carers have issues with sleeping. Not getting quality sleep over a long period of time can cause health issues. If you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, talk to your doctor.
Remember you aren’t alone.
If you would like someone to talk to during this potentially stressful time. Message us on Facebook, team member Natalie is happy to offer support.