Caregivers provide an essential duty for loved ones, but they also can sometimes neglect to take care of themselves.
While such self-sacrifice is noble, it also can lead to issues if left unchecked for a long period of time. Caretakers who always think of others are sometimes slow to recognize issues with themselves.
The first thing to understand is that it is OK to feel this way. Caregivers might want to think they are independent and strong – and they are – but they also need support, just like anyone else.
If you find yourself experiencing any of the following symptoms, it’s time to manage your stress better. This can include finding ways to relax on your own, as well as looking for help. One option is Hope Grows, which offers therapeutic respite for caregivers, including gardening.
While the issues listed below are often associated with caregiver stress, it is not all inclusive. The important thing is to pay attention to how you are thinking and feeling and take appropriate action.
Caregiver Stress: Feeling Overwhelmed
This is a feeling that almost everyone can have, especially in today’s information-overload society. For caregivers, this can come from the many duties they have every day caring for a loved one, as well as practical issues involved in keeping a household running (laundry, cooking, maintaining the lawn, etc.)
Feeling Alone or Abandoned
At the end of the day, most caregivers handle their duties on their own. Over a long period of time, this can leave a person feeling both lonely and abandoned by others. Feeling this way means it’s time to seek contact with outside help – it’s not something that can be handled on your own. One option is seeking help from an organization such as Hope Grows and finding a support group of caregivers in your community.
Sleeping Too Much Or Too Little
This can often be a sign of oncoming depression, or simply not wanting to deal with the day’s duties. It’s important to take time each day to get physical exercise, make time to get consistent sleep and also see a doctor for regular checkups.
Gaining Weight, Feeling Tired Constantly
Much like lack of sleep, this involves both your mental and physical health. It’s important to choose healthy foods to eat and, as above, get daily exercise. It’s amazing how much better you can feel by simply taking better care of yourself.
Easily Irritated Or Angered
This is a sure sign that your emotional, mental and physical cups are all overflowing with too much stress. This also is sign you need outside help to deal with your challenges, including community organizations and support groups. Sharing your issues with others who are experiencing the same thing can do wonders to improve your mental health.
If you find the things you used to enjoy every day no longer interest you, then this is likely a sign that your stress level is high.
If you experience any of the above, it’s time to consider ways to seek help and improve your life. While providing care for a loved one is important, it’s equally as important to take care of yourself.
Remember the following options:
- Community support groups
- Regular exercise
- Healthy food choices
- Reaching out for and accepting help from others
- Regular doctor visits
If you feel stressed, do not hesitate to seek help. As stated above, it’s perfectly natural to feel the way you do. Rather than thinking you must go it alone, remember to seek help where you can.