caregiver mental health
Caregivers who are managing overwhelming stress may experience anxiety, fatigue, depression, and a deep sense of isolation. Some additional signs of caregiver stress include changes in appetite or sleep patterns, emotions such hopelessness, feelings of isolation or that others do not understand your experience as a caregiver, depression, loss of control, and loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable. Here are a few ideas of ways to manage caregiver stress: Take care of your physical health. As a caregiver, you may feel like there are days where you don’t have the time to take care of some of your own basic needs. Even though it may be challenging to prioritize your needs, it is important to try to find small pockets of time to ensure you are managing your health. This includes eating healthy, staying active, getting enough sleep, taking breaks when possible, and try to step outside for a few minutes each day.
Take care of your mental health. One of the hardest parts of being a caregiver is that it can feel lonely. Others may not understand the changes in your life and the emotional toll of caregiving. Important steps to managing your mental health as a caregiver include: making time (even a few minutes) for things you enjoy (reading a chapter in a book, a quick 10 minute phone call with a friend, or enjoying a cup of tea), learn to set boundaries and say no to non-essential demands in your life, manage stress by taking a few deep breaths or taking a few minutes for yourself, ask for help from friends, family, resources such as respite care or support groups, address negative feelings by journaling, joining an online or in-person support group, or talking to a trusted friend and seek help from a therapist if caregiving is feeling overwhelming for you. Monica Saavedra, Psy.D.