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Empowering Caregivers: Three Strategies for Stress Relief

We at Samarth know that as a caregiver–it’s easy to get lost in the care of elders and seniors. Often, we are so involved in caregiving that we overlook the toll it takes on our health. We don’t instantly realize the stress of caregiving; the burnout accumulates over time, leading to compromised well-being for the caregiver. 

Signs of caregiver stress can manifest in myriad ways: 

  • As a caregiver, you might feel burdened or find yourself constantly prone to worries.  
  • A lingering sense of extreme fatigue may lead to either excessive sleeping or insomnia.
  • As a caregiver, your weight is likely to fluctuate when you feel overwhelmed by stress.
  • Caregivers may also experience heightened irritability or anger and a loss of interest in once-pleasurable activities.
  • Feelings of sadness, frequent headaches, or other physical pains
  • Recognizing these signs is crucial for maintaining your well-being while providing care to others. 

The good news is that there are essential strategies caregivers can employ to alleviate stress and maintain their health and resilience. Samarth caregivers employ these strategies to have a smile on their faces as they tend to elders and seniors across 90 cities in India. 

  1. First, self-care

Stress, over time, can harm your overall health. As a caregiver, you might feel depressed easily and become anxious. You might be struggling to get enough sleep, physical activity, or a balanced diet; this struggle to meet the basics of good health might increase your chances of getting diabetes or heart disease. Taking time to attend to one’s needs not only rejuvenates the caregiver but also ensures they can continue providing quality care. 

  • Be on top of your medical appointments. 
  • Take a break when inundated with tasks– even if that means taking a short walk in the sun. 
  • Listen to music as you check off your to-do list for your elder which might vary from scheduling doctor appointments to grocery shopping or cleaning up. 
  • Effectively manage stress through regular exercise, adequate sleep, and maintaining a healthy diet. 
  • Additionally, engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation, such as reading, gardening, or spending time with friends, can help alleviate stress and promote emotional well-being.

Happiness begins with self and radiates to make others in our care joyful and cheery. A car cannot run without fuel; similarly, we cannot provide care and comfort if we don’t prioritize self-care.  

  1. Seek support

As a caregiver, you might find that caregiving can be isolating, but you don’t have to bear the burden alone. You can begin by compiling a list of ways others can support you; the list may include grocery shopping or preparing meals, and accompanying the senior on walks or assisting with medical appointments.  

There’s nothing wrong with seeking support from friends and family. It’s good to bear in mind that support groups provide practical assistance and emotional validation. If you are looking to take a break and recharge–you might consider respite care services–they can provide temporary relief for caregivers. Another option is to join caregiver support groups–these spaces are safe for receiving advice, connecting with others facing similar challenges, and sharing experiences.

  1. Set realistic goals & expectations 

We often undermine ourselves by not acknowledging our efforts and compassion and that deep sense of care — that we feel for our elders. Have faith in yourself. It’s good to have positive self-talk and tell yourself that you’re doing your best. Focusing on your capabilities goes a long way. It’s only natural for caregivers to feel inadequate at times, but remember, nobody is perfect or flawless at caregiving.  

Help yourself by setting realistic expectations to prevent feelings of overwhelm and frustration. 

Caregiving burnout is real — caregivers should prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance. It’s wise for caregivers to acknowledge their limitations. Ask for help and delegate tasks.  It’s good to set boundaries and learn to say no to additional responsibilities and remember.

Caregiving is rewarding and satisfying, although it has its set of unique challenges. The trick is to take the time to regulate the stress that seeps into our days without warning. One can continue to take compassionate care of their elders and seniors by prioritizing self-care, seeking support, and setting realistic expectations by maintaining their well-being and mitigating stress.

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