Stress is a normal part of the caregiving experience. As a caregiver, it is paramount to remember that your health is as important as the person receiving your care. The level of commitment to another person that comes with caregiving responsibilities requires you to be in good physical condition and also depends on a positive attitude.
Being a caregiver requires patience, determination, and selflessness. For many people, especially those without an adequate support system, this can become an exhausting lifestyle both physically and mentally. Many caregivers forget to care for their own physical and mental health – which leads to burnout. Make sure that you put aside your caregiving responsibilities regularly and take time for yourself to avoid burnout. Remember that it is okay to ask for help from someone else and to take some personal time. If you do not have friends or family members who are able to pitch in regularly to help, many agencies like All Best Home Care offer respite care.
The best caregivers are usually very selfless people. Yet regardless of how much generosity and humility a person has to offer, every individual needs some personal time. As an agency with years of experience offering home care services, we’ve learned a considerable amount about reducing caregiver stress. Here’s a list of ways to reduce caregiver stress because we believe you are just as important as the person you are caring for!
5 Ways to Reduce the Stress of Caregiving
- If You Need To, Ask for Help
- Remember to Exercise Your Mind and Body
- Cope with Your Emotions Regularly
- Create Personal Time
- Get Professional Help
If You Need To, Ask for Help
As a caregiver it can be hard to ask others for help or encouragement. The position comes with tons of responsibility and at times it can feel like everything is left on your shoulders. Do not be afraid to seek outside help with your caregiving duties or even mental health support or counseling. This could mean calling a cleaning service to take care of this week’s chores so you have some personal time throughout the week. It could be asking a family member to relieve your duties for a prearranged day each week.
It can also be helpful to join a support group and talk with others about how they manage the same struggles. Though it can be difficult to ask for help, once you do, you’ll see that it’s amazing how good the added support can make you feel. Knowing you are not alone in your caregiving responsibilities is a huge source of encouragement and strength for many.
Remember to Exercise Your Mind and Body
Just as you are working to keep your loved one sharp and active, you must remember to take time to do this for yourself. Try to remain active, even after a long day of caregiving. Exercising is a great way to shake away stress and also create personal time for you. Allow your brain to continue to be challenged with puzzles, trivia, favorite books or magazines, and creative writing. Don’t forget to make regular health appointments and create time for meditation. Your health, both mentally and physically, is the driving force responsible for your ability to care for others, so it is important that you keep yourself in top shape.
Cope with Your Emotions Regularly
Try not to keep everything that is frustrating you bottled up inside. After a long, challenging day as a caregiver, set aside some time to discuss your stress and issues with your spouse, a friend, or a family member. Sometimes conversation is all that it takes to alleviate your stress. If you don’t have someone that you feel comfortable talking to then you could also write it all out in a journal or through blog posts. Self-expression will help you to get all of this stress out instead of being trapped inside your head. If you’re having a bad day, try and take care of your negative emotions that day. Carrying these feelings over to the next day risks creating an endless cycle of negativity which is unhealthy for you and also for the person receiving your care.
Create Personal Time
While it is important to practice both physical and mental exercise, try not to neglect your personal time. Go out with friends, travel somewhere new, or simply take some time to watch your favorite TV show and relax. Sometimes caregivers feel guilty for taking personal time, but this is one of the best ways that caregivers go from being good caregivers to great caregivers. It is important to understand that creating personal time allows you to focus on your own happiness which leads to generating more happiness to project toward others. Just think of it this way, everyone needs a caregiver in his or her life. This caregiver could be a family member, a professional, or you if you have your own ability to care for yourself. Don’t feel guilty for being your own caregiver and putting yourself first sometimes.
Get Professional Help
If the stress, emotions, and responsibility of caregiving leaves you feeling trapped, unhappy, and discouraged, your work as a caregiver is going to decline. It is important to be the best person for the person receiving your care, so make sure that you are fit for the position. Sometimes when the stress is too much, you may need to seek professional help. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk with a doctor, counselor, psychiatrist or clergy person about your feelings. Most of the time you will find what you’re experiencing are normal feelings that come and go with caregiving. It may sound difficult, but most people find that it is harder to admit that professional help is needed than actually talking with someone is. Most people also find that they feel much better after speaking with someone because sharing these stressors and emotions takes a huge weight off of them.
Caregiving comes with enormous responsibility, as well as the normal ups and downs, struggles and triumphs. The best way to improve the quality of your caregiving is for you to be in touch with your own self-care. Don’t forget to take personal time. Know that it is okay to rely on others. And don’t be afraid to seek professional help when you need it.