This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read my affiliate policy.
Last Updated on September 22, 2022
Looking after an aging parent or a terminally-ill loved one is a responsibility. You have to address their physical and emotional needs as they struggle with their daily woes. You may do it because you love your ailing parent or family member. Alternatively, it may be a financial decision as not everyone can afford to send a sick relative to a medical facility or hire a professional for home care. Whatever the reason for stepping into a caregiver’s role, it is a decision you have to co-exist with as long as your loved one lives.
However, you must be ready to deal with your personal woes while addressing your daily duties. You may experience extreme stress or even burnout due to the workload and anxiety. Losing sleep is another possible consequence caregivers often face. But you must find a way to deal with these concerns to stay sane and give the best to your loved one. Thankfully, a little effort can help you stay physically healthy and mentally sane. Here are some practical self-care tips for dealing with caregiver stress.
Know the red flags
People tend to overlook personal woes when seeing a loved one suffering. You may never realize the problem until you are close to the edge. The best way to deal with it is by knowing the burnout red flags and addressing them sooner than later. The symptoms of caregiver stress resemble stress and depression symptoms. You may experience extreme exhaustion, emotional vulnerability, changes in appetite and weight, irritability, and hopelessness. You may even get sick more often, withdraw socially, and lose interest in activities you previously enjoyed. Watch out for these red flags, and seek help before you get in trouble.
Be kind to yourself
Guilt is one thing that affects caregivers the most because you may feel that you are not doing enough for your loved one. But you must learn to be kind to yourself because you are probably trying the best possible. You cannot stop cognitive decline for an aging parent or save the life of a loved one suffering from cancer. But taking over the caregiver’s role shows how much you love them. Making them comfortable should be a priority, but not at the cost of beating yourself. Accept the need for help and do not hesitate to ask for it. You may request a sibling to share the duties. Local organizations may provide support groups and volunteers to pitch in when caregivers need a break.
Invest in self-care
You cannot undermine the significance of self-care when it comes to staying sane as a caregiver. You deserve it, and you must not feel guilty about it. Moreover, your health matters the most because it determines your capability to look after a sick loved one. Create a realistic self-care plan that includes good nutrition, regular exercise, optimal sleep, and meditation. Integrating cannabis for stress relief is an excellent idea. The best part is that it is now legal in many states, so accessibility is not a concern. You can explore stores like gifted curators to find a product that works for you. Life will be much easier if you get a fair share of self-care with these simple measures.
Set realistic goals
Unrealistic goals and expectations cause immense stress in any role, and a caregiver’s role is not an exception. You can alleviate the stress by lowering expectations and setting realistic goals. Creating task lists gives you a good start, as you may miss out on a few things at work, home, or patient care. Break large tasks into smaller milestones. Prioritizing tasks and delegating them also makes you less anxious. For example, you can ask your sibling to take your parent for a medical appointment if you have an urgent work meeting. Seek alternative arrangements like working remotely to lower your stress.
Focus on good things
Besides setting realistic goals, you must understand that the concept of a perfect caregiver is far from reality. You cannot do everything while caring for a sick loved one, no matter how hard you try. But you can focus on good things to ditch the anxiety. Not affording professional care for an aging parent is one thing. But you can take over the duties to make up for the financial constraints. The good thing is that you spend more time with them at the end-of-life stage. See the positive of the situation, and you will feel good about it.
Join a support group
Knowing that you are not alone makes it easy to cope with caregiver stress. You can find a support group online or in your community and connect with people living parallel lives. Having a forum to share your struggles and discuss solutions provides validation and encouragement. People in support groups can create meaningful friendships and provide much-needed kindness and guidance during tough times. Do not shy away from discussing your concerns because everyone else will probably have the same ones.
Seek counseling therapy
Caregiver stress is a real problem, and overlooking it is not the right way to deal with it. Your situation may worsen if you fail to handle it on time. In fact, you may find yourself struggling for sanity and hating yourself and your loved one. Seek counseling therapy if nothing else seems to work. A qualified therapist is a right person to understand your anxiety and suggest the best solutions to deal with them. You must not delay professional therapy if the stress seems to aggravate over the weeks.
Dealing with caregiver stress is as crucial as looking after a sick loved one. After all, you can give your best only if you feel good about yourself. Physical exhaustion and mental stress can affect you when you look after a dying relative for the long haul. You must pay attention to self-care and follow these measures to beat the anxiety that comes with a caregiver’s role. The best piece of advice is not to wait until you reach the edge but to get help sooner than later.