How Stress Impacts Caregivers?
The role of a caregiver extends beyond mental stress. If you are a caregiver, you know just how much goes into the day-to-day work. You understand that even when you are not directly engaging in caregiving, there remains an emotional weight that you carry.
Stress impacts caregivers because the role requires physical and emotional energy. As a caregiver, you spend time lifting, standing, or sitting for extended periods of time.
Signs of caregiver stress:
Below are examples of caregiver stresses. As you read over each, try to pinpoint which connects to you. In the reading, you will be able to learn healthy ways and coping skills that support caregivers with reducing stress and improving their quality of life.
- Feeling overwhelmed or overly stressed.
- Having too many items to do and not enough time.
- Feeling overly tired.
- Easily agitated by tasks or people.
- Difficulty maintaining a healthy weight.
- Difficulty maintaining healthy sleep.
- Feeling sad or emotionally defeated
- Feeling disconnected from fun activities.
- Withdrawn from others.
Understanding The Role of A Caregiver:
Below is a case example on the role of a caregiver for a family member:
My name is Sarah, and I am the caregiver for my daughter. She is on the Autism Spectrum. Before I share bits of my story, I want to express just how much I love my daughter and am appreciative of who she is. Being her mother is a gift. When she was younger, I found myself alone. It was difficult to attend playdates or find other parents who were okay with the accommodations that we needed. Sarah couldn’t go out like the other kids in noisy playgrounds. The noise really bothered her. She struggled to share and often play more by herself than with the other kids. Over time I started to notice that it was just her and I, during playdates. It was hard to blame my friends or other parents. I guess in some ways, I could understand the challenge. Yet, I felt alone. That was when I first started working with a counselor that specialized in therapy for caregivers. That was my space. My place to remove pain, express myself, and laugh. As a caregiver, working with a therapist taught me that it was okay to spend time by myself. I learned that I wasn’t being a bad mom for spending time with my friends. It’s actually really helped me become a better mom. More centered and energized.
In the case study above, you are able to identify the following key points connected to caregiving:
- Sarah expresses love and compassion for her role as a caregiver.
- The time spent being a caregiver can impact areas of self-care.
- At times being a caregiver can make a person feel alone or isolated.
- Caregiving can be emotionally and physically demanding.
- Self-care is a healthy practice for caregivers.
- Counseling can be very supportive to caregivers.
6 Ways Counseling Can Help Caregivers Reduce Stress
1. Healthy movement can support caregivers with mobility.
The role of caregiving often requires physical movement that can be very draining on a person. For instance, a caregiver main engages in long periods of sitting. This can negatively impact posture, cause poor circulation, and decrease physical activity. At the end of the day, the caregiver may feel tired from all the sitting, pain in the shoulders, or discomfort in the leg region. CLICK HERE to learn more about counseling for caregivers.
To support this area, caregivers can try to take breaks evenly spaced out during the working day. The breaks focus on engaging in simple movements. The moments include stretches, body squats, walking, and deep breathing exercises.
The goal is that the movement exercises improve the quality of life for the caregiver, reduce stress, improve blood circulation, and reduce muscle pain.
2. Caregivers can understand triggers.
In the field of counseling and psychology, triggers are what provokes a person to experience a certain feeling. Common triggers that impact caregivers include not taking breaks, lack of progress, struggling to be understood, lack of support from others, and lack of self-care. CLICK HERE to learn about caregiving for someone with dementia.
One way to increase awareness of triggers is to utilize a journal tracking system. Using a journal, try to write down what bothers or annoys you each day. At the end of the week, read over the answers. The answers are your triggers.
When you are able to build awareness over your triggers, you will notice an improvement in your level of stress. For more education on mental health, awareness click here to check out a supportive read from News 2 WFMY.
3. Caregivers with healthy coping skills feel better.
Develop healthy coping skills in order to improve quality of life. The prior reading point, focused on understanding triggers. Once you understand what bothers you as a caregiver shift to outlining the key strategies that you can utilize to address the triggers.
There are numerous coping skills that caregivers can utilize to reduce stress. Try to identify which coping skills you prefer to utilize, and which ones work for you as a caregiver. Below are coping skills to reduce stress for caregivers:
- Going for a walk.
- Creating a calming music playlist.
- Taking breaks.
- Writing in a therapeutic journal.
- Take a hot bath.
4. Counseling helps caregivers build healthy habits.
Today, think about your habits. Most people wake up in the morning and brush their teeth shortly afterward. This is a habit that was developed early in life. Often by caregivers such as parents. Over time a child becomes more independent and before you know it, they are brushing their teen on their own.
- What are your habits?
- What are your healthy habits?
- What are the habits you are trying to remove?
- What are the habits that support you as a caregiver?
- What are the habits that negatively impact you as a caregiver?
The more time that you spend on understanding and developing your habits the healthier you’ll feel. For instance, let’s imagine that you struggle with asking for help. Your habit is that everything you feel overwhelmed as a caregiver you keep pushing.
When you want to ask for help, you do not because you do not want to be a burden to others. You do not want to come as weak. You refuse help from others because you feel that the caregiving responsibility is yours and not anyone else’s.
This habit over time causes you to experience stress and can even lead to burnout. Today, give yourself the space to work with a counselor that specializes in caregiving. Use this space to remove unhealthy habits while building healthy ones.
For more reading on building, habits click here.
5. Counseling helps caregivers build awareness
Working with a counselor helps caregivers develop a healthy form of self-awareness. Consider your role as a caregiver.
- Do you find yourself starting a day and before you know it, the day is over?
- Do you feel that it is difficult to find time slow down?
- Do you struggle with practicing self-care?
- Do you struggle with building healthy boundaries as a caregiver?
- Do you have a hard time focusing on your health as a caregiver?
The answers above give us space to comprehend how easy it is for caregivers to lose focus on the key areas of life. One, in particular, is the practice of self-care. Working with a therapist helps caregivers learn how to practice self-awareness.
This skill helps caregivers in the following ways:
- Learn to be mindful of your surroundings.
- Increase healthy practices.
- Remove negative habits.
- Create healthy relationships.
- Develop healthy boundaries.
6. Counseling gives caregivers a healthy space
Ready to schedule a counseling appointment?
Reach out to Santos Counseling PLLC by calling 336-663-6570 or email [email protected]. Santos Counseling PLLC is located in Greensboro, NC for in-office therapy appointments and serves all of North Carolina using teletherapy.
Santos Counseling PLLC counselor Kate specializes in working with caregivers. If you are a caregiver and ready to build self-care practices, manage stress, and overcome challenges please reach out to Kate today by clicking here.