Combatting Caregiver Stress During Covid
With the arrival of the Coronavirus crisis last year, our stress levels began to rise. We had to learn new ways of coping, of living, and of relating to others. Who knew we’d be trying to establish meaningful relationships with people while wearing masks making it impossible to see the other person’s face! Yet, here we are, more than a year later, doing our best to find our way in this new world.
Caring for ourselves while caring for a loved one has become even more stressful; it can be physically, mentally, and emotionally overwhelming. Because of this, it is even more important that we take the time to care for ourselves as well. When we don’t take that time for ourselves, caregiver burn-out can result, and when that happens, everyone suffers.
Some signs of burn-out include:
- Fatigue, or lack of energy
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Changes in eating habits, weight gain/loss
- New or worsening health problems
- Increased Pain
- Neglecting other responsibilities
- Increased substance use (e.g., alcohol, tobacco, marijuana)
- Increased anxiety
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Social withdrawal
- Feeling alone and unsupported
- Feelings of resentment
- Difficulty concentrating
- Impatience or irritability
- Feeling overwhelmed
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to reduce your stress and your chance of experiencing burn-out.
Exercise: Exercise is so good for you! It helps improve your mood and clears your mind so you can think better. Try to find an exercise routine. Go for a walk or a swim at the local aquatic center, or try meditation. If you can find a friend to exercise with, all the better!
Watch Your Diet: Beware of “stress eating.” Most of us have already added a few “Covid pounds,” but don’t allow your weight to creep up on you. Your body needs proper nutrition to help cope with the stress it’s under. Eat well so you’re providing the nutrients it needs.
Don’t Isolate: Staying connected with others is important to overall health and mood. Find the time to call a friend or family. If you are able, use Zoom, Skype, or Face Time to interact with others
Sleep: Getting quality sleep and enough of it is important to good health. When caring for loved ones, our own sleep may be impacted by their sleep patterns and needs. Keeping a regular schedule as much as possible will help.
Hobbies: Sometimes we spend so much time caring for our loved one that we end up feeling like we’re losing touch with ourselves. Indulging in your hobbies helps you relax. You might try reading, crafts, journaling, cooking, or whatever other interests you have.
Get Help: Talk to family members or friends, or if you feel you need more support, seek professional help.
Respite care: If you’re comfortable with it, let someone else share the burden of caregiving now and then and use respite care. Perhaps other family members can help while you get away for a while.
Whatever you do, now is the time to take good care of yourself. So much depends on your continued good health. You do so much for others…now allow yourself some time for self-care. You won’t regret it!