Caregivers often find themselves overwhelmed in a sea of uncertainty with the role that they have taken on caring for someone else. The never-ending demands placed on caregivers can lead to stress, anxiety, guilt and even depression.
It is not uncommon for caregivers to neglect their own needs due to time and resources, which can leave them feeling exhausted and isolated. It is critical that those in this role learn to find support and methods of dealing with the emotions they are experiencing.
The typical caregiver has a regular full-time job, and helping a loved one regularly is like having another one. For caregivers who also have a spouse or children to care for, it’s easy to become quickly burned out. Over time, many caregivers feel as if they have reached their limit. Caring for someone elderly, ill or disabled is living in a constant state of flux – anything can change without notice. Taking care of your own emotional and physical needs can make you a better caregiver.
The toll that is placed on caregivers is growing as many are coming into this role at younger ages and people are also living longer than generations before. The caregiving role today may last for a longer duration than ever before.
Pat Samples, author of several books on caregiving, shares daily ways that caregivers can put the focus back on themselves for a few moments to help them get through those stressful times. In her bookDaily Comforts for Caregivers, Samples shares from her own experience:
To keep up my own strength, I make sure I have a deep well of other support that I can draw upon — friends, respite services, my Spiritual Power, whatever will restore me and keep me as strong as I need to be.
There are several ways that caregivers can help cope with the daily struggles they experience. Seeking assistance and support from outside resources can help alleviate some of the responsibilities on the caregiver by delegating to others. There are many professional caregiver resources available, such as home aides or adult day care to help families find balance. Calling on friends and other family members to take on smaller tasks may be just enough to free up some time for the caregiver. Establishing a reliable and consistent support system can be life changing for a caregiver.
Confide in Health Professionals
Speaking with a doctor or professional counselor can help caregivers with emotional management and even physical issues that many careivers experience. Sometimes just venting to a third party can help put the situation in perspective. In addition, caregivers can receive medical treatment for their anxiety, depression or sleep issues. Learning to know how to read the signals your body is giving you and recognizing when it’s time to seek help can proactively keep the overall well-being of the caregiver in check.
Seek Personal and Spiritual Growth
Nurturing one’s spiritual journey is for many the rock that carries them through challenging times. Committing time to reflect and meditate can help revive caregivers both mentally and spiritually. This allows them to keep focus on the most important issues at hand and not stress over the smaller issues as they open their minds for new challenges.
Create a Calming Environment
Coming home to a space that is filled with things that are inviting and relaxing can have immediate positive impacts. Lighting candles or burning incense can create ambiance and aromatherapy that can easily put someone in a state of calm. Playing soft music, reading a good book and taking a hot bath are also ways caregivers can de-stress.
Eat Healthy and Exercise
Working out or simply stretching, exercise is a great way to relieve tension and stress. Committing to a regular exercise regimen is important both physically and emotionally. Eating the right foods that provide natural energy and maintaining good physical habits can give caregivers the stamina they need to get through each day, while making them feel good, too.
The life of a caregiver is one that is not always easy to find the right balance. Putting so much time and energy into taking care of a loved one often leaves caregivers in a state of personal neglect. Taking the time to care for yourself will make you a more effective and capable caregiver.