Caring for your mental and emotional well-being
Caregiving and stress seem to go hand-in-hand. As a caregiver, you might be pushed to the limits of what you can handle both physically and emotionally. Dealing with that pressure can take a toll. It's natural for caregivers to experience a mixture of emotions including feeling overwhelmed, guilty, sad, lonely, and even angry.
Some level of stress is normal, but chronic stress can cause burnout, which may contribute to feelings of resentment toward the person you're caring for. It can also lead to a more serious mental disorder called depression.
When the stress is getting to you, be sure to remind yourself that you're doing the best you can. Give yourself credit for all the support you've been giving to your loved one in need, and realize that you may need some support too, in order to balance your overall health with the demands of being a caregiver. Having emotional support can help you manage the challenges of caregiving, including maintaining your own well-being.
Let friends, family, your doctor, or clergy know if you are feeling stressed and need someone to talk to about it. Sometimes, just venting your frustrations out loud can bring some relief.
Connecting with other caregivers is another great way to help lower stress and meet your emotional needs. After all, who knows better how to tackle caregiving challenges than those who have been through the same things? Doctors, hospitals, newspaper community calendars, or agencies on aging may be great sources to help you locate a local support group. There are also many ways to connect with other caregivers online via social networks.
One of the most valuable things you can do as a caregiver is to take care of yourself so you’ll be at your best when caring for your loved one. Be sure to get the mental and emotional support you need to help avoid caregiver burnout and help you feel ready to face the challenges ahead.