Being a carer of a loved one can be a rewarding experience. However, it also has its challenges and can cause a lot of stress. While caregiving will never be stress-free, constant stress can pose a risk to your health, which is not good for you – or your loved one. Here are a few tips to reduce stress, and prevent caregiver burnout.
Recognise the Signs
Caregiver stress can sneak up on you, especially as your focus is primarily on your loved one. If you’re aware of the signs of caregiver stress, you can act early. Watch for signs such as:
- Constantly feeling overwhelmed.
- Changes in sleep patterns and feeling tired.
- Feeling anxious, depressed, or irritable.
- Withdrawing from friends and family.
- Losing interest in activities you previously enjoyed.
- Experiencing frequent headaches or becoming sick more often.
- Changes in appetite, or weight loss or weight gain.
If you notice any of these signs it’s time to make a change, seek some help, or take a break.
Build a Support Network
Many carers view their caregiving role as solely their responsibility. They fall into the trap of placing unrealistic demands on themselves, and this can lead to undue stress. Speak up and ask for help. Build a support network and spread the load. Home care providers offer a great level of support. Many assist with a wide range of services to support people with daily living requirements and care needs. Home care services can be funded as part of a Home Care Package, or with NDIS funding. Depending on your circumstances, you can choose which care needs can be delegated to a trusted home care provider. For example, you may prefer to tend to the personal care of your loved one, and allow qualified care workers to assist with domestic chores and gardening. You can choose.
Take a Break
Giving yourself time to rest is not selfish, it’s sensible. Respite care services are designed to allow family caregivers much-need time off to take a break. Professional carers can come to your home and manage a mix of care duties that ensure your loved one is well looked after. Make the most of respite time and spend it doing anything that your heart desires! Relax, read, go to the hairdresser, or a yoga class, sleep, dance, or catch up with friends. Taking some time for yourself can make you feel refreshed. Best of all, it can help prevent caregiver burnout, so you’ll be there for your loved one.