Caregiving is rewarding, but can also be a stressful experience. It’s important to take care of yourself to avoid feeling burned out by the challenges you deal with.
Caregiving is by no means an easy task, especially if you’re the primary caregiver of a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. As rewarding as it is being able to be there for a loved one, it is also natural to feel stressed, exhausted, frustrated, and sad at times.
As much as you want to focus on your loved one’s needs, you shouldn’t overlook your own health and well-being. It’s important to maintain a healthy mental, physical, and emotional state through consistent self-care, rather than wait until you feel overwhelmed to give yourself a break. Here’s five ways that can help you manage caregiver stress effectively.
Take Time To Connect With Others
With all the tasks and responsibilities that you have on your plate, you might feel like you have no time to set aside for spending with others. Despite this, it’s important to stay well-connected with family and friends who genuinely care for you, can offer you a positive perspective, and provide you with some emotional support. You’ll find that even a simple meal or a weekly walk with a friend does wonders for your mental health, giving you a boost needed keep dealing with the ups and downs of caregiving.
Mind Your Health
Make sure to eat healthy and drink plenty of water; taking just 15 minutes to plan healthy meals and snacks for the week will make a huge difference. Look into recipes that can be left in the slow cooker, or even frozen for the rest of the week, so you’re less inclined to grab the most convenient food when you’re busy.
You should also strive to set a regular exercise schedule and keep physically fit. Exercise has been found to help relieve stress and boost your overall mood, and is an important step in taking care of your mental health as well. At the same time, it’s important to try and get enough sleep—try doing some relaxation exercises before bedtime to help you sleep better.
Look Into Support Resources
Support groups can provide much needed encouragement, and help you to connect with other caregivers, which can be useful for exchanging caregiving tips or simply chatting with someone who understands what you are going through. Sessions like ADA’s Caregiver Support Groups also offer an avenue where you can learn strategies that will be useful in dealing with difficult situations on your caregiving journey.
Give Yourself A Break
If at all possible, try enlisting the help of your family members or trusted friends to take over caregiving duties for a day, and give yourself a break. You can also look for resources like ADA’s dementia daycare, which help to give you some breathing room in your caregiving schedule, time which you can use for some self-care, and just to give yourself a mental break!
At the end of the day, you’ll probably still encounter difficult days where you just feel down, like all your efforts are not making a difference. At these times, try and remember that even on bad days, your efforts to care for your loved ones makes a difference in their life. You are doing your best to help someone you care for remain comfortable and in a loving environment, and that means everything.