Deciding to care for a loved one with his or her daily task can be deeply rewarding, yet a difficult decision to make. This is a journey that is paved with love and good intentions. However, caregiving is loaded with responsibility filled with daily concerns over how to provide the best care, while still taking care of yourself.
If you are on the journey of caregiving for a loved one, learn to recognize caregiver stress and burnout. Experts say building time into your routine to take care of yourself helps manage stress. To effectively care for someone, you first have to care for yourself. Set aside all the “I should or I will later” and put yourself on the top of the list.
Watch out for signs of stress overload. Some common symptoms of stress overload are memory problems, trouble concentrating, racing thoughts, irritability, anger, sadness, headaches, and changes in sleep or appetite. Chronic stress can lead to or worsen serious health problems, including high blood pressure, autoimmune illnesses, digestive issues, depression, and anxiety.
Be kind to yourself and follow some helpful steps to reduce caregiver stress.
#1 Take a break: Read a book, attend a religious service, watch a favorite television show, go to the movies, call a friend and go out to lunch. Taking a break gives you a fresh “new” perspective.
#2 Ask for help: Accept help when offered by family and friends. Be realistic of your time, don’t pull yourself in different directions; this will only add to your stress. Hire outside help, if needed.
#3 Reach out: Spending time with family and friends can decrease feels of isolation.
#4. Exercise: Go for a walk or do an exercise of your choice. Research shows regular physical activity can help prevent depression and alleviate anxiety.
#5 Be healthy: Eat healthy items and get plenty of sleep. Don’t self-medicate with unhealthy food, medications, or alcohol and curb your caffeine intake. Seek medical advice when needed.
#6 Laugh: Laughter is a great stress reducer. “Find Your Joy,” it is ok to laugh.
#7 Music therapy: Match your mood. Calming music to subdue frustration. Energizing tunes to lift your spirits. Your favorite classics to make you smile.
#8 Support Groups: Find a local support group.
#9 Forgive yourself: It is normal to feel tired and become frustrated, even angry, at your circumstances.
Finally, don’t do it all yourself. Set up a plan and make changes as needed. Being your loved one’s caregiver is not easy, but it is rewarding…and know your loved one appreciates all you are doing.
Christopher Reeve quoted, “I think a HERO is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”
If you or a loved one are in need of additional support, we’re here to help. Please give us a call at 717- 627-0072 or visit our website at www.yourneighborhoodconnection.org
Be kind to yourself!
Your Neighborhood Connection