Dealing with Caregiver Stress
Being a caregiver is meaningful and fulfilling, but is also extremely stressful. Caregiver burnout is very common, and though this job is of the utmost importance, it is still essential that you take care of yourself; you cannot take care of others if you are not your best. Below we outline three essential areas in managing stress:
- A group of people you can count on can do wonders: family and friends are a good start
- A strong network can help recognize changes in your behavior that may be signs of burnout
- Join you local Muscular Dystrophy Canada Chapter or Network – everyone there can relate and offer advice
- Stress management helps keep these relationships strong for when you need them the most
- After taking time for yourself to recharge, it’s important to keep your other relationships healthy
- Simple things like a phone call, going for coffee or a movie can bolster your relationships. Remember they are a two-way street!
- Your relationship with yourself is also important. Do something you love to help maintain your work/life balance
- Your relationship with the loved one you’re caring for also needs to be worked on outside of the day to day tasks you assist with
- Visiting a counselor may be a good place to let your thoughts out, and to learn coping skills
Ask for help
- Never be ashamed to ask for help or advice
- Respite services are a great way to take some time away from caregiving and help with de-stressing
- Say ‘Yes!’ when offered help. You won’t be letting anyone down by taking time off
- HelpGuide.org suggests that having a short list of easy tasks that others could easily take care of i.e. meal preparation, driving to appointments, small errands.
- If you’re sick, take the day off. Someone will be sure to step in. There’s no use in getting worse or spreading you cold.
More helpful tips:
- Though it may seem there is no time to cook a healthy meal for yourself, there is. Making sure your meals are nutritious is key in staying healthy and having the energy you need to be a caregiver.
- Even though you are caught up in making sure your loved one gets to all of their appointments, you need to ensure you have regular doctor and dentist visits.
- If you notice large weight gain, change in mood or depression, insomnia, frequent illness, anxiety, lack of energy, loss of interest in hobbies etc. see a doctor. You may be experiencing caregiver burnout.
- Make sure you know the common signs of stress. This list is very good.
Need more advice? Contact your local services team.