Being a caregiver is no easy feat. Whether you’re caring for a loved one or you're a professional caregiver, it's a very taxing responsibility.
A caregiver is defined as "anyone who provides help to another person in need."
Oftentimes, adult children find themselves as informal caregivers to their aging parents. It's estimated that 1 in 3 adults in the United States are informal caregivers. Family members typically don't identify themselves as a caregiver and consider it a familial responsibility. However, one of the first steps in reducing caregiver stress is recognizing the role so that they may receive the support needed.
How to Recognize Caregiver Stress
Caregiving is a role with many benefits, such as being there for a loved one during a difficult time. But being a caregiver also comes with unique challenges. Those who step into the role as a caregiver without formal training can experience feelings of frustration, loneliness, and exhaustion. The emotional and physical stress that follows is common.
If you're a caregiver, it’s important to know the signs of caregiver stress, which can include:
- Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
- Feeling physically or emotionally drained
- Lack of sleep
- Abnormal changes in weight
- Feeling irritable, angry, or sad
- Frequent headaches or body pains
- Abusing substances, such as alcohol
Managing Stress as a Caregiver
Too much stress over a length of time is not sustainable or healthy. Overcoming caregiver stress looks different depending on the person. Below are a few examples of how to manage stress.
#1: Set realistic goals
Prioritize and make lists to help set goals that can be achieved that day, week, or month.
#2: Join a support group
Being amongst others who have shared experiences can not only put things into perspective but also provide beneficial suggestions for managing stress.
#3: Seek social support
It's important to stay connected to loved ones, even if it's just a quick phone call.
#4: Prioritize your health
In order to help others, we must first help ourselves.
It's important to be vigilant to the signs of stress. Without outlets to manage and reduce the stress, caregivers are at risk of developing depression. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of caregiver stress or burnout, talk to a doctor.