4 Ways Home Caregivers Can Reduce Their Stress
Many people opt to care for loved ones who become too ill to care for themselves. While home caregiving can feel rewarding, it can also be overwhelming and stressful. To help caregivers find a balance between tending to themselves and their loved ones, CircleAround spoke with a few female caregivers who have some advice to share. Here are four ways they suggest caregivers can reduce their stress.
1Evaluate What Is Causing the Stress
Marie Davis, a caregiver and CEO of Ria's Beauty Collection, knows firsthand how overwhelming the tasks of caregiving for a loved one can be. She recommends first identifying the source of the stress. Once you’ve done that, you can better find a solution.
“Recognize early signs of stress,” she tells CircleAround. Some of those signs may include poor sleeping habits, temporary memory loss, and irritability. Identify what is causing the stress. Is it something to do with your family member or patient? Are you trying to do everything yourself? Are you having problems saying ‘no’ to others?
“Focus on what you can do,” she advises. “Reduce your workload by reducing your days or hours if possible, or have someone to fill in for you (family, friends, volunteers, etc.) And if needed, contact your physician.”
2Look for Creative Outlets
“The tendency I had in the beginning was to want to control things as much as possible,” says Kate Chapman, a Broadway actress who was a caregiver for her late father and uncle. “I quickly realized that this false construct was only exhausting me. It wasn't helping me better care for my uncle.”
She began to reduce the stress of caregiving by asking herself a simple question each day: "What will this day bring, and how can I meet it creatively?" She encourages others to release stress through artistic pursuits like writing, sculpting, drawing, collage, or dance — anything that speaks to the creative soul.
“If my uncle was having a low energy day, I had time to myself,” she explains. “Creating things helped me to maintain my vitality and growth while honoring the atmosphere my uncle needed for his comfort.”
Wanting the best care for your loved one will require a lot of adjustments, but Aghogho Boccardi — a stay-at-home mom, teacher, and a former home care aide — emphasizes that changing your perspective on the day-to-day will help reduce new stressors that may arise.
“I’ve learned to focus my energy on the things that truly matter such as feeding my kids, attending to their emotions, and just being there for them,” she tells CircleAround. “That may mean the dishes won’t be done on time, or the laundry will be pushed to another day. That’s okay.”
In her experience, it’s essential to prioritize the most important things, like the health and safety of your loved ones. It’s ok to give yourself a break and leave less timely tasks for another day.
4Ask for Help
Caregiving for loved ones often falls on a single person’s shoulders, but Ashley Blankenship strongly encourages reaching out for support whenever needed. As a doula, Blankenship knows extra help is vital when providing support to a person in need.
“If asking is hard for you, think of it like you’re managing a company, not like you’re asking for pity,” she tells CircleAround.
You may consider reaching out to other family members, friends, professional caregivers, health aides, or even death doulas for end-of-life care. “Remember who you are and what you enjoyed before caring for others,” Blankenship adds. In this way, you’ll be able to be there for your loved one as well as yourself.
The Bottom Line
Being a home caregiver can alter your life in both positive and negative ways. When taking on the role of a caregiver, it’s important to have the tools you need to balance your own well-being alongside your loved ones. Learning from experienced caregivers can reduce the stress associated with this important responsibility — and reduced stress means a better experience for everyone involved.