Take a Deep Breath: Identifying and dealing with caregiver stress

Before caregivers can provide optimum care for their client or family member, his or her physical and emotional needs must first be met. Caregiver stress can describe any physical or emotional stress that a caregiver endures while caring for themselves and another person. Stress can stem from becoming frustrated or angry with the client, guilty because the caregiver doesn’t feel they are giving the best possible care because of other responsibilities, lonely because of the long work days, or non-traditional hours that a caregiver might face.

Dealing with Caregiver Stress:

According to Women’s Health, 61 % of caregivers are women and 75 percent of caregivers experiencing higher amounts of caregiver stress are women. With a large population of caregivers being susceptible to stress, it is important to learn how to manage it. Caregivers are generally in good health but stress can be characterized by feelings of being overwhelmed, changes in sleep patterns or diet, weight changes, frequent headaches or body tension, feeling sad or irritated and loss of interest in enjoyable activities.

Stress may not seem like a serious problem, but long-term stress can cause heart problems, digestive problems, sleep disorders, anxiety or depression. If you are a caregiver and you begin to feel burned out, take some time for yourself to recover and find positive outlets to release your tension. Hobbies are a positive way to blow off steam. Try painting, reading, photography, puzzles or sports to blow off steam after a long day of caregiving.

Identifying and accepting things that cannot be changed in a caregiving situation is an important way to reduce stress. Some obstacles are inevitable when working for a client, but a positive attitude can make a situation easier to handle.

10 Warning Signs of Stress:

According to Alzheimer’s Society Canada, there are ten warning signs of stress.
1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Withdrawing socially
4. Anxiety
5. Depression
6. Exhaustion
7. Sleeplessness
8. Emotional reactions
9. Lack of concentration
10. Health problems