Managing Your Own Stress While Caring For Another
Caregiver stress is a daily fact of life for many caregivers. Caregiving often takes a great deal of time, effort, and work. Many caregivers struggle to balance their lives including full-time jobs and caring for children.1
Constant stress can lead to "burnout" and health problems for the caregiver. Additionally, caregivers may feel guilty, frustrated, and angry from time to time. Your level of stress is influenced by many factors, including the following1:
- Whether your caregiving is voluntary
If you feel you had no choice in taking on the responsibilities, the chances are greater that you will experience strain, distress, and resentment.
- Your relationship with the care recipient
Sometimes people care for another with the hope of healing a relationship. If healing does not occur, you may feel regret and discouragement.
- Your coping abilities
How you coped with stress in the past predicts how you will cope now. Identify your current coping strengths so that you can build on them.
- Your caregiving situation
Some caregiving situations are more stressful than others. For example, caring for a person with dementia is often more stressful than caring for someone with a physical limitation.
- Whether support is available
Understand where resources are available.
Ways to manage stress:
- Recognize warning signs early
These might include irritability, sleep problems, and forgetfulness. Know your own warning signs, and act to make changes. Don't wait until you are overwhelmed.
- Identify sources of stress
Ask yourself, "What is causing stress for me?" Sources of stress might include having too much to do, family disagreements, feelings of inadequacy, inability to say no.
- Identify what you can and cannot change
Remember, we can only change ourselves; we cannot change another person.
- Take action
Taking some action to reduce stress gives us back a sense of control. Stress reducers can be simple activities like walking and other forms of exercise, gardening, meditation, and having coffee with a friend. Identify some stress reducers that work for you.
- Data on file at Zimmer