If you’re a caregiver, you know that taking care of someone who needs your assistance can be very rewarding. But being a caregiver can exact a high toll, and caregiver stress is common.
Caregiver stress is the emotional and physical strain of caregiving. Individuals who experience the most caregiver stress are the most vulnerable to changes in their own health.
Many caregivers fall into the trap of believing that they have to do everything by themselves. Don’t make that mistake. Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself you won’t be able to care for anyone else.
Watch for these signs of stress:
- Feeling tired most of the time
- Feeling overwhelmed and irritable
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Gaining or losing a lot of weight
- Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
Strategies for dealing with stress:
- Accept help. Be prepared with a list of ways that others can help you.
- Focus on what you are able to provide. Don’t give in to guilt. Feeling guilty is normal, but understand that no one is a “perfect” caregiver.
- Join a support group. A support group can be a great source for encouragement and advice from others in similar situations.
- Seek social support. Make an effort to stay emotionally connected with family and friends. Set personal health goals. For example, find time to be physically active, or set a goal for getting a good night’s sleep.
- See your doctor. Get recommended immunizations and screenings. Don’t hesitate to mention any concerns or symptoms you have.
These tips are reprinted from the Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/caregiver-stress/art-20044784.