Coping with Caregiver Stress

Have you ever felt like you don’t know where you’ll get the strength to continue, that you are “burned out”? Burnout is the result of an ongoing stress and the drain of our physical energy, spirits, and emotions. For a caregiver, it begins with too little sleep and exhaustion. You are a very important person whom others are counting on. But, how can you be counted on if you are not well yourself? Remember the long run, so guard your health. Conserve your strength! Prevent burnout!

Suggestions for Dealing with Stress and Preventing Burnout

Pick five favorites from the suggestions below that you are able and willing to do. Can you start today?

  • Make a “to do” list and then decide what is most important.

  • Begin regular exercise—even if you can only stretch in place.

  • Practice deep breathing exercises—as you breathe out, empty your mind of your concerns as you empty your lungs.

  • Affirm and acknowledge yourself—discover hidden skills and talents.

  • Join a support group, or start one—share ideas and resources.

  • Allow yourself to feel the emotions you feel. They are only feelings and not the person you are.

Knowing When to Seek Help

No matter where you are in the journey of caregiving, from time to time you may need extra help and support. Sometimes a good friend can offer the help you need…other times a professional counselor may be better able to guide you. Assistance is now offered through special caregiver programs as well as with private advisors.

You may experience some physical warning signs that you need professional help. These signs may include:

  • Weight gain or loss

  • Frequent headach