By Natalie Stamper, Psy.D
“Life may occasionally become chaotic, so be prepared for it, accept it and cherish the times of status quo.”
– Future of Personal Health
Being thrown into the role of a caregiver can be a stressful endeavor. Caregiving can mean many things, but typically it involves caring for another who cannot provide themselves with one or more aspects of their well-being. However, often caregivers fail to help their loved ones because of a lack of self-care. They tend to get so lost in their duties that they neglect their own needs, which can become a detriment to emotional and physical well-being for both the provider and the recipient of said care. Below explore ways to manage the stress of caregiving to ensure wellness for both the giver and recipient of care.
All Emotions are Valid
We often find ourselves feeling overwhelmed by a flood of negative emotions in stressful situations. We may feel depressed, resentful, or angry at the receiver of care and oneself. You may also feel anxious about your situation, resulting in symptoms such as constant urges to cry or sleeping for long periods. This can result from unchecked emotional stressors, so it is essential to be aware of what is troubling you and how you can change it. Let’s remember that we are human and therefore not perfect. We may make mistakes in caretaking, but it’s important not to let it turn into guilt. Instead, we can learn from our mistakes so that we can lead happier and healthier lives in the future. Whatever the situation, remember that you, too, are important. All emotions, good and bad, about caregiving, are not only allowed but valid (Family Caregiver Alliance).
It can be much easier to manage these emotions when speaking with a support group of others who are in similar situations (Future of Personal Health). And if stuck at home, online support is also available. Members of support groups will know your fears and worries better than anyone else. If you feel overwhelmed by your obligations, there is also no shame in contacting friends or family for help (Future of Personal Health). More often than not, they will not know how to help or what to do, so delegating minor tasks can help guide them and take a huge weight off of your shoulders. Accepting their help can give you more time to maintain proper physical and mental health, such as exercising, eating right, and getting enough sleep. It is also crucial to stay aware of when you should contact professionals; we all have limitations. And if you ever feel you are not equipped to handle certain aspects of care, training is available. Even a small amount of professional aid can make a huge difference.
Caregiving is stressful for everyone. It pains us all to see loved ones who need help taking care of themselves. But neglecting your own self-care does more harm than good to everyone in the long term. Managing scenarios such as these can ensure a better quality of life for you and whoever is in your care.
“8 Things Caregivers Can Do to Take Care of Themselves.” Future of Personal Health, Future of Personal Health, www.futureofpersonalhealth.com/prevention-and-treatment/8-things-caregivers-can-do-to-take-care-of-themselves.
“Emotional Side of Caregiving.” Caring for Adults with Cognitive and Memory Impairment | Family Caregiver Alliance, Family Caregiver Alliance, www.caregiver.org/emotional-side-caregiving.