Caregiver Stress Is Real: Here’s How You Can Deal With It
Oct 31, 2023   •   Andy Flores
8List.ph is published by ID8, Inc.
Oct 31, 2023   •   Andy Flores
In a family-oriented country like the Philippines, taking on the role of a caregiver for an ailing or disabled family member is not uncommon. However, the struggles of caring for a loved one struck by poor health are rarely brought to light, leaving even the most patient and optimistic of caregivers feeling lonely and burned out. If you find yourself in the same situation, know that your feelings are valid and that your efforts are not in vain.
Here, we’ll share with you some tips on how to prevent and cope with caregiver stress.
Stepping up to the role of a caregiver doesn’t mean you have to do everything on your own, so do not hesitate to seek and accept help from other family members whenever necessary.
To ease your burdens and make tasks flow more efficiently, you can even open a discussion with your relatives. Be honest and let them know of the areas they can help you with, be it preparing meals or picking up medications at the pharmacy.
And, if you think you need professional help to get the tools you need to properly manage your stress, schedule or ask for a referral for an appointment with a mental health specialist.
Caregiver burnout often presents itself as feelings of guilt and frustration. It can also cause bouts of severe anxiety and depression. Familiar? Well, these symptoms are further aggravated when you torment yourself by ruminating over whether or not you’re doing enough. You have to understand that no caregiver is perfect and that have been doing your best thus far.
Focusing on the things you can do at present and setting realistic goals achievable given your daily routine can significantly reduce your stress levels. And when mishaps occur, simply do what you can to address the situation and let go of the things that are beyond your control.
Sure, you’re on top of your loved one’s doctor visits, lab tests, medications, and diets, but are you keeping your physical health in check, too?
Being mentally and emotionally strained by the demands of caregiving makes you more vulnerable to falling ill, so don’t neglect your own body.
Find time to exercise (three 10-minute sessions of physical activity per day is a good way to go!); set and show up at your own medical appointments; complete your vaccinations; eat nourishing meals; and get a restful sleep every night.
If you have trouble sleeping, consult a specialist to help you catch those much-needed Z’s during bedtime. After all, being sleep-deprived will negatively affect your mood, productivity, and energy levels.
Relaxation tends to turn into a foreign idea when you’re caring for a loved one almost 24/7. But relaxing isn’t always synonymous with taking a trip to the spa or going on a holiday out of town (although those are great ideas, too!).
Sometimes, relaxation can be as simple as practicing deep breathing exercises, holding basic yoga poses, or just doing stretches that feel good. Try exploring different relaxation techniques and choose which one suits you best.
Or, perhaps, get in touch with an old hobby that makes you happy! There are many types of activities you can try at home that allow you to stay close and watch over your loved one. You can pick up a book you haven’t read yet, try gardening, polish your cooking skills, or knit something to wear!
Getting creative and having a rewarding pastime makes for an excellent diversion from thinking negative thoughts.
Many caregivers pass up on the opportunity to meet up with friends out of worry and guilt over leaving their loved one behind even just for a while. But here’s the thing: You don’t have to say goodbye to your social life just because you’ve decided to become a carer.
When chats and video calls are not cutting it, meet up with friends for brunch, to catch a movie, or attend a concert—whatever you want to do in the company of your best buds because, for sure, they missed you just as much!
As for who will watch over your loved one while you’re away, jump back to #1 on this list—seek help. Ask someone in the family to cover for you in the meantime.
Helped your loved one bathe quicker than usual? Did they take a couple of steps with minimal assistance? Got favorable lab results? Were both of you in high spirits throughout the day? There’s something good in each day and these small wins are worth celebrating over!
Prepare a little surprise, light the sparklers, fix a bouquet of flowers, enjoy a special meal together, or even just a snack that their diet permits. Find joy in seemingly mundane moments that will stay in your memories for life.
When things become too much for you and your relatives to handle, it might be time to consider respite care to give yourself some time to recharge and recover from all the stress of caregiving.
Respite care, as the term suggests, provides short-term relief to primary caregivers. It is also a viable option for caregivers who have to travel for business or wish to go on vacation with the rest of the family.
Respite periods can range from a few days to a couple of weeks.
Indeed, being a caregiver is not just physically demanding, but also emotionally taxing, so it is important for you to take the necessary steps to maintain your health and wellbeing.
Input your search keywords and press Enter.