Dealing with Emotional Stress as a Caregiver
Being a full-time caregiver isn’t as simple as it might seem, if it even does. In fact, it is downright stressful, and carrying out a role such as this one can affect your physical but emotional health as well.
They call it ‘caregiver burnout’, and with millions of Americans devoting their time and energy to this profession, it bodes well that the first thing that they should be thinking of is taking care of their wellbeing better so as to take care of their patients as effectively as possible.
Several studies have shown that a large percentage of caregivers feel stress that takes a toll on their health, their relationships with their families and marriages, their income status but most of all, feel hopeless or a sense of despair that no doubt, causes them emotional stress.
Now, how would you know whether you are emotionally stressed out?
Here are a few observations that have been made, and which clearly indicate caregiver burnout from an emotional standpoint:
#1: Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness accompanied by tears; a sense that there is no way out
#2: Loss of interest in personal appearance, favorite hobbies and work, while also avoiding friends and family
#3: Habits such as binging, smoking or drinking or a serious change in eating patterns; increase in use of medication
#4: Headaches, body aches, tiredness, lack of energy and the inability to relax
#5: Losing your cool over trivial matters or feeling resentful or bitter; falling sick more often
So what should a caregiver do to cope with emotional and physical stress?
– Firstly, as a caregiver, you must ensure that you loved one is as independent as possible, in terms of dressing, eating, grooming and so on and so forth. This way – he or she will feel better about being independent for as long as possible, and you don’t have to do everything.
– Avoid taking on too much for the person as this will end up with you creating an endless number of tasks to complete, and will result in burnout as the days go by.
– Food is imperative for caregivers who feel a lot of stress, and even though they might not want to eat, it’s important that you do so regardless of whether you don’t feel like it.
– Knowledge of your loved one’s condition can go a long way in relieving yourself of stress, and so much information is out there these days. If you don’t have access to information, seek out healthcare professionals who can not only assist you by taking care of the patient but also educating you in this regard.
– Even if you don’t feel like leaving your loved one to his own devices, you can at least find a professional caregiver who can stand in for you while you start ‘living’ again. A day out with friends or other loved ones can really relieve stress to a great extent.