6 Tips for Relieving Caregiver Stress | Family Health
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Six Ways to Relieve Caregiver Stress

If you’re a caregiver, you know that taking care of a loved one can be very rewarding, but also challenging and stressful at times. Caregiving is often a long-term challenge. You may face years, or even decades, of caregiving responsibilities. It can be particularly disheartening when there’s no hope that your family member will get better or if, despite your best efforts, their condition is gradually deteriorating.

 

Understanding the Signs of Caregiver Stress

It’s important that you recognize the emotional signs of caregiver stress, which can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Experiencing mood swings
  • Being irritable or easily frustrated
  • Having memory problems or not being able to concentrate
  • Feeling that you’re not in control
  • Increasing substance abuse
  • Being argumentative
  • Feeling isolated
  • Being dissatisfied with your job

 

While you’re taking care of your loved one, it’s a good idea to engage in self-care. Keep in mind that it’s not selfish to focus on your personal needs and desires. Here are some ways you can alleviate stress and ultimately make you a better caregiver.

 

Stay empowered

  • Embrace the choice you made. Being a caregiver is a wonderful thing you’re doing. Write it down and remind yourself of that – every day.
  • Focus on the things you can control and celebrate the small victories! Instead of stressing over things that happen, concentrate on how you choose to react to them.

 

Find the appreciation you need

  • Imagine what your loved one thinks of you care. Never forget that he or she will always remember the love and care you’re giving.
  • Applaud your own efforts. Remind yourself of the good you’re doing. Make a list of all the ways you’ve made a positive difference. Refer to it when you start to feel low.
  • Talk to a supportive family member or friend. Turn to friends and family who will listen to you and acknowledge your efforts.

 

Ask for help

  • Look into respite care. Enlist nearby friends and family to run errands, bring a hot meal, or “baby-sit” the patient so you can take a well-deserved break.
  • Speak up and spread the responsibility. Chances are others don’t know what you need or how you’re feeling. Express it in a respectful way, even if you’re nervous doing so. Dialogue is good and so is getting other family members involved in caregiving tasks.

 

Give yourself a break

  • Maintain your personal relationships. Your friendships will help sustain you and keep you positive. Try to get out of the house, but it’s hard to leave the house, invite friends over to visit.
  • Prioritize activities you enjoy. Make regular time for things that bring you happiness – even the simple ones and remember to pamper yourself!

 

Take care of your health

  • Keep on top of your doctor visits. Remember, YOU need to be healthy in order to take good care of your love one.
  • Exercise. It’s a great way to relieve stress, enhance mood, improve energy and fight fatigue.
  • Eat well. Foods like fresh fruit, vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats will fuel you with steady energy.
  • Get your sleep. If you’re like most people, you need more sleep than you think you do. Remember, eight hours is the norm.

 

Share your troubles

  • Join a support group. Find those who go through what you do each day, whether in person or online. Above all, you’ll find out that you’re not alone.

 

At Gateway Health, we’ve devoted our lives to helping others. So, we know the time, effort and dedication required. Check our caregiver resources that can help you help others here: https://www.gatewayhealthplan.com/medicare/caregiver-resources.

 

 

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