Each year, millions of Americans volunteer their time and talents to care for aging-in-place loved ones. And although serving as a family caregiver is highly rewarding, it can also be physically and mentally demanding. To avoid caregiver stress, it sometimes becomes necessary to focus on your own health and wellbeing so that your senior continues to receive the care they deserve. If you currently find yourself in this position, here’s why practicing self-care doesn’t mean that you are a selfish person.
Warning Signs of Caregiver Stress
Most informal caregivers are asked to manage caregiving duties along with a household and at least a part-time job. As those daily stressors mount up family conflict, social withdrawal, and financial hardship are stark realities for the average family caregiver.
Caregiver stress typically presents with these warning signs:
- Feelings of guilt, hopelessness, or helplessness
- A weakened immune system
- Rapid weight gain or loss
- Substance abuse
- Digestive problems
- Frequent headaches
- Withdrawing from family and friends
Once caregiver stress has reared its ugly head it can quickly place the health and wellbeing of both the caregiver and care recipient at risk.
Self-Care Tips for Stressed Caregivers
As a caregiver, you may also experience negative emotions like depression, anxiety, frustration, and guilt. When it’s time to take a well-deserved break, here’s how to keep those unhealthy feelings from impeding your progress:
Regular exercise benefits your body and mind in so many ways, starting with the fact it’s a great stress reliever. Working out briskly for at least 150 minutes a week will also promote a better night’s sleep, strengthen your immune system, and give you a more positive mental outlook. Some of the best workouts for caregivers include walking, swimming, bicycling, yoga, or aerobics.
Find a caregiver support group
Joining a caregiver support group is a great way to connect with like-minded individuals who are empathetic to what you’re going through. As a reliable source of caregiving tips, support groups provide an open forum where you can openly express your feelings and frustrations without being judged.
Seek professional counseling
Another way to share your innermost thoughts without being criticized is by speaking with a licensed professional counselor. Not only will your counselor be objective and a good listener, but he or she should also be able to provide you with valuable insight that helps restore your peace of mind and sense of self-worth.
Record your experiences
Keep suppressed negative feelings from weighing you down by recording them in a journal. Once you start a caregiving journal, also use it to write down inspirational messages or positive experiences. When life is throwing you a curve, going back and reading those uplifting messages can do wonders for your self-esteem and mental health.
When caring for an aging loved one, your free time and other personal relationships often get neglected. Reward yourself for a job well done by doing activities you enjoy. Pamper yourself with a spa day, take a vacation, learn a new hobby, or just spend a quiet evening curled up on the couch binge-watching your favorite TV shows. After all, you’ve earned it!
Ask for help
When you start to feel caregiver stress setting in don’t hesitate to ask for support by taking advantage of caregiving sources like:
- Other family members
- Friends, neighbors, or coworkers
- Community volunteers that work with the aging
- Adult daycare
- A professional respite caregiver from a licensed home care agency
Family Trusted In-Home Respite Care for Seniors in Sarasota, Florida
Once you’ve finally decided to take a well-deserved caregiving break, call us! The professional respite caregivers from First In Care can step in and provide your senior with the nurturing they deserve. While serving as an extended family in your loved one’s home, our highly trained professionals understand what’s required to maintain a client’s quality of life, along with their dignity and self-esteem.
In addition to respite care services uniquely tailored to your family’s needs, First In Care also provides in-home support for other daily living activities like personal hygiene, light housework, medication reminders, and transportation. Our senior caregiving services are affordable, flexible, and always delivered in a seamless package that restores your peace of mind. To learn more now about our private home health and senior care services in Bradenton and throughout both Sarasota and Manatee County, please visit www.firstincare.com.