Tip 9, Caregiving Stress

Caregiving, Stress and Hard Work

Caregiving is not stressful because it is hard work. As we all know, hard work never hurt anyone. It is the perception of the work that is important. It’s your perspective on the situation and your perception of your role in it that’s important. If you have unreal expectations of yourself, if you are denying help or are expecting pie-in-the-sky solutions to your problems, then you are at great risk for developing unmanageable caregiver stress.

The following list gives you some things to look for in evaluating your stress level.

Physical Signs Of Caregiver Stress

  • Disturbed sleep

  • Back, shoulder or neck pain, muscle tension

  • Headaches

  • Stomach/digestive problems (upset or acid stomach, cramps, heartburn, gas, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea)

  • Weight fluctuation (gain or loss) or change in appetite

  • Loss of hair

  • Fatigue or exhaustion

  • High blood pressure, irregular heart beat, palpitations

  • Chest pain

  • Perspiration

  • Skin disorders (hives, eczema, psoriasis, tics, itching)

  • Periodontal disease, jaw pain

  • Reproductive problems/infertility

  • Weakened immune system: more colds, flu, infections

  • Sexual dysfunction/lack of libido

Emotional Signs Of Caregiver Stress

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Blaming the sick person

  • Overreacting to minor problems

  • Moodiness/mood swings

  • Butterflies

  • Irritability, getting easily frustrated, road rage

  • Memory problems and lack of concentration

  • Feeling out of control

  • Increased substance abuse

  • Phobias

  • Argumentativeness

  • Feeling of isolation

  • Job dissatisfaction

If you notice any of these things happening in your life, there’s no reason to worry. Don’t stress over your stress! You can easily make some simple and gradual changes in your lifestyle. The important thing to realize is that you have to make some changes. You can implement them gradually. Nurture patience and appreciation of what you’re already doing.

You Have To Take Care Of Yourself

I’ll say it straight up: Self-care is a necessity, not an option. To care for another, you need to care for yourself. It is as simple and difficult as that. Yet, if you have always seen yourself as a “giver,” it may seem selfish to focus on your own personal care. (Richards 22)

If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to continue taking care of your loved one. This means eating right, getting adequate rest, building exercise into your schedule, keeping socially active and taking care of your own medical necessities.

Self-care ranks at the very top of the Caregiver’s Bill of Rights. This is no accident!

Caregiver Revolution :For families, loved ones and professionals who want to change caregiving into a positive, life affirming experience.