Caregiver Strain: Taking Your Feelings SeriouslyAuthor:Steven M. Schwartz, PhD Date:May 01, 2019
If you’ve cared for a loved one with a complex medical condition, you know the struggle: fatigue, embarrassment, frustration, and anxiety are all signs of caregiver strain. This often stems from issues like financial hardship, time constraints, and lack of privacy.
It’s not selfish to consider your own needs. In fact, taking care of yourself is an important part of being a good caregiver. This article will help you assess the strain you’re under and learn ways to cope.
Types of Caregiver Strain
Consider how these common sources of stress might apply to you.
Caregivers help loved ones through stressful events and sometimes even crises. This emotional labor can cause feelings of sadness, anxiety, and anger.
Caring for a loved one can drain resources — including money, time, and energy.
Caregivers must strike a delicate balance between their own desires and the needs of their loved one.
Caregiving doesn’t just affect you and your loved one; it can negatively impact relationships with your spouse, siblings, extended family, and friends.
Ways to Cope
Whatever form your caregiver strain takes, consider these strategies for protecting your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Seek expert advice.
You’re not the first person to face this. Draw on others’ experience to plan for many different needs. Good places to start are the National Caregivers Library, the AARP’s caregivers webpage, the Family Caregiver Alliance, and the National Alliance for Caregiving.
Delegate your work.
The goal of caregiving isn’t to do everything yourself. When possible, invite others to help care for your loved one.
Make time for yourself.
Set aside time to lay down the burdens of the day. Do things that replenish your energy — or do nothing at all.
Relieve stress in healthy ways.
It’s easy to slip into unhealthy habits to relieve stress. Find a pastime that brings you peace and occupies your mind in healthy ways.
Think of the positives.
It’s normal for caregiving to sometimes cause negative thoughts and feelings. Reminding yourself of the positive parts of your life can help you cope.
We’re here to help.
As you work to help your loved one, know that you are not alone; Diplomat will be a trusted source of ongoing support. Our Empower Ecosystem will feature regular articles dedicated to caregiver issues.