Research has shown that caregivers who feel appreciated report higher levels of physical, mental, emotional and social functioning. As a result, caregivers report being happier and healthier.
It can be exhausting and overwhelming to care for someone you love. However, there are steps you could take to manage stress, express your emotions and regain your sense of joy, balance, and hope.
What is Caregiver Fatigue?
Caring for a loved one can be rewarding but can also lead to many stressors. Because caregiving is often a long-term task, the emotional impact of caring for someone you love can grow over time. Many people have to care for their loved ones for many years. It can be demoralising if you feel overwhelmed if your family member isn’t getting better or the condition is steadily deteriorating.
So taking care of your health isn’t something you can afford, but it’s essential to living a healthy lifestyle. Your basic emotional and physical well-being should be as important as ensuring your family member arrives at their appointment on time or takes medication.
Signs of Caregiver Stress & Burnout
Learning to recognise signs such as caregiver stress and burnout is important. This will allow you to take immediate action to stop the situation from worsening and improve the situation for you and the person you care for. Common signs and symptoms that indicate stress in caregivers are:
- Anxiety, depression, irritability
- Feeling tired and rundown
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Avoid minor nuisances
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling increasingly resentful
- Abusing alcohol or drugs
- Excessive smoking or eating more
How to Deal with Caregiving Burden
The stress of caring for loved ones will never go away. However, these tips can help you reduce stress and avoid caregiver burnout.
- You can avoid caregiver burnout by feeling empowered
Burnout and depression can be caused by feeling helpless. As a caregiver, it is easy to fall into the trap of feeling powerless. But you don’t have to feel ineffective in any situation. This is especially true when you consider your mental health. It’s not possible to always have more money, time, or physical help, but it is possible always to feel happier and more hopeful.
Accept your caregiving choice. Recognise that you have made a conscious decision, despite any resentments you may feel or burdens you have to bear. The positive reasons you made that choice are important. You may be able to provide support for your parent in return for their care during childhood, and it could be because of your values or the example that you want to set. These deep and meaningful motivations can sustain you in tough times.
- Look for the silver lining
Being appreciated can make it easier for you to not only accept the situation but also allow you to enjoy your life more. Studies show caregivers who feel valued experience better mental and physical health. Caregiving makes people happier and healthier, regardless of its demands. What do you do when the person you care for isn’t able to express appreciation or feel gratitude?
Imagine how your loved one would feel if they didn’t have to worry about illness, pain, or being disabled by dementia. You should remember that your loved ones will show gratitude if they can.
- Ask for caregiving support
Caregiver burnout is inevitable when you try to assume all the responsibilities of caring for someone without taking breaks and getting assistance. Doing it alone.
Look into respite care. Consider enlisting family members or friends who live nearby to help with errands, bringing a hot meal, and watching the patient for some well-deserved relaxation. You could also hire paid help or volunteers to provide services in your home, either on a temporary or regular basis. Alternate options include out-of-home respite programs, such as adult care centres and nursing homes.
Speak out. You shouldn’t expect your friends or family to understand what you need and share your feelings and emotions. Let the other person you care about know what is going on. If you have any questions, concerns, or ideas about improving things, you can express them even if it’s unclear how they will be received.
- Give yourself a rest
As a busy caregiver, leisure time may seem like an impossible luxury. But you must schedule it. Allow yourself to be a good caregiver and take time to enjoy what you do every day. You’ll be a better caretaker for it. Your relationships should be maintained. Don’t lose touch with your friends while caring for someone else. These relationships will sustain you and keep the positive vibes going. Invite friends over for coffee, tea, or dinner if it’s hard to get out of the house. Prioritise those activities that give you pleasure. Spend time with hobbies that bring happiness to you, such as reading, gardening, or tinkering at your workshop. Look for ways to pamper yourself. A few small luxury items can help ease stress and lift your spirits. Relax with a long hot bath. Ask your spouse to give you back rubs. Have a manicure. Purchase fresh flowers to decorate your home. Anything that makes you feel special.
Get out of the home. For peace of mind, consider asking family and friends to take over caregiving duties so you can be away from the house.
- Take care of your health
Think of your body as a car. You can make your body run reliably and smoothly if you have the right fuel. You will have problems if you don’t take care of it. Do not make your caregiving burden worse by adding unnecessary health problems. Try to get emotional coaching whenever required.
Be on top of your doctor visits. You easily lose sight of your health when you are busy caring for a loved one. Make sure you attend your regular check-ups. Exercise. Exercise is something that you should do when you’re feeling tired or stressed. You will feel better after. Exercise can help you relax and boost your mood. On most days, aim for 30 minutes. You can break it into three 10-minute sessions if it’s difficult to manage. Regular exercise will increase your energy and combat fatigue.
Caregivers very likely feel overwhelmed so they have to prioritise their health as well. They need the love and support of loved ones. The detailed steps mentioned above will surely help caregivers to overcome difficulties.
How do I stop being resentful as a caregiver?
As a caregiver, you can feel resentful due to excessive stress of personal and professional duties. If this occurs, ask a friend or family member to go and visit your loved one temporarily. Going for a walk or joining friends for dinner might be a good idea. If you are considering moving out of the city, you may consider local options like adult day care centres, senior centres, child care centres, or professional in-home care.
Why is caregiving so stressful?
The caregiver’s stress is caused by the physical and emotional strains associated with caring for someone. The stress levels of caregivers are generally higher than those of people who do not care for others. A large number of caregivers provide help and are always “on-call” almost all of the time.
Why is it difficult to be a caregiver?
It is difficult to be a caregiver because this work involves a lot of stress, it can get hard to balance professional and personal duties and there’s hardly any time for your health and personal space.