Caregiver Stress? Know When to Seek Help & Where to Find It
Caregiving can be an emotional roller coaster. Feeling overwhelmed, consumed and disheartened by all your life responsibilities can easily lead to stress. This in turn can compromise not only your own well-being but the level of care you are giving your loved one.
Seeking support while maintaining your own physical, emotional and mental health is key to managing your role as a caregiver. Caring for yourself is one of the most important - and one of the most often over looked - things you can do as a caregiver. When our needs are met, the person we are caring for will benefit too. As odd as that might sound, it’s true!
Ways to Reduce Your Caregiver Stress Levels
UK Work Life / Work + Life Connections Program can help you learn ways to manage your stress. This program can provide you with up to five (5) free individual counseling sessions with a licensed and certified therapist in a private and confidential environment. All faculty, regular staff (FTE 0.50 or greater), spouses, sponsored dependents, unmarried children up to the age of 26 (or older if disabled before the age of 26) and UK retirees are eligible.
Seek and accept help from others for both you and the person you are caring for. Spread the responsibility and don’t be shy in asking for help! Enlist as many people as possible – paid or unpaid – to help out.
- Keep a list ready of small tasks that family and friends can do easily – going to the grocery, driving your loved one to an appointment, making a meal or dropping letters and packages at the post office.
- Use one of the many caregiving apps now available to help you customize, coordinate and keep track of your loved one’s care. Here are just a few - Caring Bridge, Care Zone and Lotsa Helping Hands.
- Use community services and agencies to provide in-home care as well as daily or intermittent respite care.
Let UK Work Life/ Elder Care help you identify elder care services and resources available to you in your area.
Make time for yourself and for your other relationships. You owe it to yourself, to your family and to your loved one. You’ll be a better caregiver.
Keep a journal. Writing things down can help relieve the frustration and resentment. Research shows that journaling improves your overall well-being – both physically and mentally. It’s not as hard as you might think to get started. Here are a few sites that can help:
- The Benefits of Journaling for Stress Management
- How I Use Mind Mapping to Help Declutter My Brain
- Here's How to Use A Bullet Journal for Better Mental Health
Attend to your own healthcare needs.
- Set boundaries for what is acceptable to you; what you have time and energy to do and how much you are willing to do
- Make sure you keep up with your own medical appointments.
- Eat healthy and exercise regularly. I know, easier said than done! But just 10 minutes 2 or 3 times a day can add up and make a difference in your overall well- being.
- Learn relaxation techniques such as: meditation, breathing exercises, visualization (picturing relaxing places and scenarios), and progressive muscle relaxation (progressively tightening and relaxing the muscles in your body)
Join a support group. Here are some of the reasons to consider joining:
- Camaraderie - know that you are not alone.
- To talk openly and honestly about your feelings without feeling judged.
- Get a better understanding of what to expect from your situation down the road,
- Compare notes on coping strategies.
- Learn about resources and services in your area.
- Gain a sense of empowerment and control.
Caregiving can be extremely rewarding but also can be very difficult; take care of yourself so you can better be able to take care of your loved one.
UK Elder Care Coordinator