Are you a family caregiver struggling with stress?
Studies show family caregivers are under a tremendous amount of stress. Many are providing care for a relative for years on end, often with little or no help. Commonly reported feelings and conditions associated with the stress of caring for another include:
- Depression and anxiety
- Feelings of isolation, boredom, anger, resentment, guilt, and hopelessness
- Feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities
- Poor nutrition, lack of exercise and self-care
- Sleep deprivation and fatigue due to constant nighttime interruption
- Low energy and motivation
- Physical aliments
If you are a caregiver, keeping a journal is a first step to identifying your individual stress triggers and patterns related to caregiving. Once the triggers have been highlighted, you can then apply targeted solutions.
Consider the following questions on a daily basis and write down your answers in a notebook for two weeks.
- What are my biggest causes of stress related to my caregiving tasks today?
- How do they make me feel?
- How do I respond, emotionally, verbally, and physically?
- Do I take steps to make myself feel better and help alleviate my stress?
- If yes, what are those steps and how do they provide relief?
- If no, what do I do instead?
Journaling in this fashion provides self-awareness and can help caregivers face their feelings and stress triggers head on. As you keep track of your days, you should start to detect patterns of behavior. Document these patterns as well.
This exercise is a big first step in the direction of finding solutions to help manage and alleviate your caregiver stress. Often this is the hardest step as guilt can prevent caregivers from even acknowledging they are struggling.
Our next blog post focuses on resources and steps to finding solutions. Stay tuned!