Finding yourself in the role of family caregiver can leave you feeling overwhelmed and anxious. Although caring for a family member is an act of loyalty, kindness, and love, you probably never anticipated being in this situation and may not know where to start. It's important to know your limits and to be realistic about the amount of time you can give to caring for your loved one while continuing to maintain your personal life as well.
Building a support system is crucial to avoiding caregiver burnout. Finding an online support group or one that meets locally can give you an outlet and remind you that you are not alone. Your burden will be lightened just by having someone to gives support and understands what you're going through. They may also have advice that is invaluable, as they may have already experienced similar trials and situations-especially if they are caring for someone with the same illness as you are.
You may be experiencing a variety of emotions including anxiety, guilt, and even anger or resentment. These feelings certainly don't mean that you don't love your family member, and it is most definitely okay to feel these things. But don't keep them to yourself, find a trusted friend, family member, or fellow caregiver that you can confide in.
In the beginning you may feel as though you can do it all, but even if you are the primary family caregiver, you'll need help. Don't be afraid to ask other family members to step in, or look into respite care so that you'll be sure to get a break now and then. Neglecting to seek needed support can compromise your ability to care for your loved one as well as yourself. It can be hard to ask fro help, no matter how badly you need it, but often others are willing to help but are uncertain where to start. By having a clear knowledge of the areas you're able to cover, as well as the tasks you need assistance with, you'll be able to make needs known and speak with those individuals who would best fill that need. Remind yourself to accept when someone offers assistance.
Taking the necessary steps to ensure you don't feel as though you're in over your head or sacrificing yourself in order to care for you loved one will help you cope with your new responsibilities. Taking care of yourself is essential, and that includes ensuring that your duties as a caregiver don't take over your entire life. Make it a priority to continue to enjoy the things you did before taking on the role of family caregiver. Stay social and engaged with friends and family, don't isolate yourself. Maintaining balance in your life by taking time for hobbies or interests is vital to a well-rounded life and can boost your spirits and give you sense of self, and an identity outside of your caregiver role.
Regular exercise and a healthy diet are crucial, and exercise can help relieve stress as well as boost your energy. Nutritious meals provide stamina throughout the day and can assist our bodies when coping with stress. Knowing how much sleep you need and getting the rest your body requires increases productivity and energy as well as boosts your mood.
Caring for the caregiver is just as important as caring for your loved one. Unaddressed, the stress of caregiving can impact your health and lead to burnout. When this happens, it's challenging to take care of yourself, not to mention your loved one you're caring for. Join us next week for an article on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of Caregiver Burnout.