Caregiver Topics: Stress Management
Someone you love and care for is diagnosed with an illness. Suddenly your role in life shifts from loving spouse or child to “cancer warrior” or “caregiver extraordinaire”. As you take on this new found role you put your needs aside for the person who so clearly needs your attention. Your selfless nature keeps the patient taken care of and in good spirits, however, you start to feel rundown and emotionally disconnected. This “caregiver stress or burnout” comes to caregivers when they ignore their own basic needs in order to focus on another’s. Caregiving burnout can be avoided as long as caregivers ensure that they manage the stresses of taking care of a sick patient before it becomes too much to bear.
Common signs of caregiver burnout:
- You have less energy.
- It seems you catch every sickness that’s going around.
- You’re tired and forgetful.
- You neglect your own needs because you’re too busy or don’t care anymore.
- At times you have trouble relaxing, and are easily impatient.
Tips for Avoiding Caregiver Burnout:
- Be Vocal with Friends and Family: Don’t expect others to know what you need or how you feel.
- Spread the responsibility: Try to get as many family members as involved as possible. Divide caregiving roles according to strengths. For example have an organized person be in charge of finances or bills, someone with a large family help you grocery shop, or ask a younger family member with more time in the day to help with driving to appointments , etc.
- Set Up a Regular Check In: Ask a friend or family member to call you once a week at the same day and time to check in. Then ask that person to spread how you are doing to other family members and friends.
Devote Some Time for Yourself
- Set aside 40 minutes each day for yourself. Do something you enjoy during that prescribed time.
- Discover ways to pamper yourself: Get a massage or manicure. Put together some bath salts and take a bath. Do something out of the ordinary that makes you feel special.
- Make yourself laugh: Laughter is an excellent way to relieve stress. Read a humorous book, watch a sitcom, or call that one person who always seems to make you laugh.
- Get out of the house. Many times simply getting fresh air or taking a brief walk can revitalize you and lift your spirits.
And always remember that you are not alone. There are others going through the same type of caregiving stresses as you. If you would like to join a conversation with other caregivers click here to join our monthly caregivers support group. The group has a conference call every third Wednesday of the month from 7-8 P.M. PST.
If you have any questions about this topic please feel free to call Clare Cameron or Lien Hua-Feng at 310-478-4678.