It's Important to Consider the Caregiver's Mental Health
What is the caregiver burden?
Caregiver burden can be defined as the stress borne by caregivers, while trying to aid the needs of another person usually their loved one, neglecting their own emotional and physical health. Several studies conducted on caregivers suggest that caregiving is associated with experiencing prolonged psychological distress and is said to have been a reason behind persons facing depression, stress, and poor psychical and mental well-being. Family and friends prove to be your strongest pillars in good and bad times. However, providing assistance to a loved one when they are going through a chronic illness can be something that can deteriorate the caregiver’s own mental health. Expressing anger, frustration, exhaustion, and sadness is but natural when dealing with a person with mental or physical disabilities on a daily basis. It can often become taxing and self-draining and you may also be vulnerable to showing signs and symptoms of one or the other mental illness.
Signs of caregiver burden:
- Losing interest in things
- Having no time for yourself
- Not getting enough sleep
- Constant worry and anxiety
- Depressive symptoms
- Getting irritated and expressing anger too often
- Undergoing stress
- Digestive problems
- Headaches and body aches
- Disturbed emotional states
- Social isolation
What can be done?
- Be compassionate to yourself: Experiencing a truckload of emotions while looking after someone is not indifferent. A person may even display anger and frustration but that does not mean he is a bad caregiver. One needs to simply be more compassionate to oneself and accept these feelings or emotions as part and parcel of normal functioning.
- Taking some time for yourself: It is important to spend time with yourself as it is a regenerative activity. An individual might lose himself in an attempt to cater to the needs of someone else but must be awarded a break to engage in activities he likes.
- Maintain your own physical health: Having sound physical health yourself is as crucial as only then will you be able to help someone with an ailment. Getting enough rest, maintaining a nutritious diet, and not compromising your meals can better prepare you for a long day assisting your loved one.
- Acknowledge your efforts: As a caregiver, you need to set up realistic goals and accept limitations if any. On days when in spite of your full-fledged efforts, the health or condition of the patient you’re looking after deteriorates, you should understand that not all things can be under your control.
- Reaching out: If you start feeling that you cannot keep up with your own mental health and needs, you should not feel ashamed or guilty about reaching out for support for your own self. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness or defeat but allows you to bounce back to handle your own affairs.
- Join a support group: Having conversed with those who have faced similar issues like you, can provide you with an array of coping strategies to deal with the problem at hand. Support groups could help you to manage your and your loved one’s health by providing apt guidance.
- List your goals: Prepare a list of tasks you need to get done on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis. Also, add little slots for yourself where you would carry out all the activities for self-refreshment. Doing so would allow you space and help you better manage your health and emotional well-being.
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