For most caregivers, being there when a loved one or client needs you is a core value and something you wish to provide.
Shifts in roles and emotions are almost certain. It is natural to feel angry, frustrated, exhausted, alone, or sad. Caregiver stress — the emotional and physical stress of caregiving — is common. It’s normal to feel guilty sometimes, but understand that no one is a “perfect” caregiver. Believe that you are doing the best you can and making the best decisions you can at any given time.
To help manage caregiver stress:
Set realistic goals. Break large tasks into smaller steps that you can do one at a time. For me, trivial things like folding laundry and organizing emails and paperwork (appointments, reminders, bills, junk, ahhh!) are my least favorite things to do. However, I noticed I became more stressed when I didn’t do these tasks because my house and my brain started to become cluttered, disorganized, with a clothes mountain that I have to dig through to find a pair of socks. It can be easy to go down this path so make sure to prioritize, make lists, and establish a daily routine. I use a gamified app called Habitica to help create lasting habits, increase productivity, manage my household, and my life in general. This app makes it fun to get things done.
Get connected! Make an effort to stay well-connected with family and friends who can offer non-judgmental emotional support. You can also join a virtual meet up group. This can provide validation and encouragement, as well as problem-solving strategies for difficult situations. Connecting with others who are going through similar scenarios. A group can also be a good place to create meaningful friendships! Check out our Facebook event page for Caregiver Connect and Community Connect – both are virtual and private meet up groups hosted via Zoom.
Set personal health goals. For example, set goals to establish a good sleep routine, find time to be physically active on most days of the week, eat a healthy diet, and drink plenty of water. Find ways to nourish your mind, body, and soul. Mindfulness meditation practices, body scanning exercises, breathwork (I personally enjoy the Wim Hof Method), and restorative movements are amazing tools for managing stress. Schedule intentional check-in’s with yourself to feel and release emotions. While yoga and meditation can be beneficial, I do realize it can be difficult for caregivers to find time for such activities. However, there is time if you make time! Set a timer on your phone or watch 3 times a day for a 7-minute workout or stretch to keep you active and resilient to stress. I personally enjoy Lucy Wyndham Reed’s 7-minute 1,000 step workout. I use an app called Calm for free 10-minute meditations.
Use CBD daily. Research suggests CBD may improve or alleviate symptoms of stress, depression, anxiety, pain, inflammation, irregular sleeping patterns, changes in appetite, and immune function. These conditions are all common ailments that occur with caregiver stress and burnout. Check out our research library for condition-specific research articles. If you need product and administration suggestions contact the Care Team!
Reduce personal stress and increase self-awareness. Ask yourself, “What is causing stress for me?” Sources of stress might be that you have too much to do, family disagreements, or the inability to say no. Identify what you can and cannot change. When you try to change things that you have no control over, you will only increase your sense of frustration. Ask yourself, “What do I have some control over? What can I change?” Even a small change can make a big difference.
Journaling can be helpful in identifying your needs, wants, fears, goals, and aspirations. It is not selfish to focus on your own needs and desires when you are a caregiver—itʼs an important part of the job. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for anyone else!
I hope you found this article to be helpful. From my experience, establishing a self-care routine can be challenging with many ups and downs so be patient and have compassion for yourself. If you want to connect with me you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org