Caring for a loved one can be rewarding, but demanding — even for the most resilient people. Caregivers report much higher levels of emotional and physical stress. Many feel overwhelmed, tired and rundown by the amount of care their aging, sick or disabled family member needs. Providing help or being "on call" most of the day can also leave little time for friends and social activities.
Women are the major providers of long-term care in the U.S. and are at a higher risk of developing chronic stress. They are often so busy caring for others, they tend to neglect their own health. Unfortunately, the strains of caregiving and poor self care can have serious consequences like obesity, anxiety, depression and burnout, a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion.
Caregiver burnout can creep in without awareness that it is happening and spotting the warning signs is important so you can take steps to prevent its devastating effects on your wellbeing. Common symptoms to be aware of include, but are not limited to:
- Frequent headaches
- Trouble concentrating (brain fog)
- Weaker immune system
- Getting too much sleep or not enough sleep
- Weight gain or loss
- Becoming easily irritated or angry
- Emotional detachment
- Feeling increasingly resentful
- Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications
How Stress Management Coaching Can Help
No matter how stressful you life may be, the good news is that you can control how stress affects you - and avoid or reverse burnout. The right support and stress relief plan is essential - and personal coaching provides the roadmap, step-by-step guidance and skills to feel calmer and in control faster. It can empower you to say “no” more often, take time outs, get better sleep and regain energy, optimism and hope by helping you to:
Focus on things you can control. You may not be able to change another's behavior, but you can control the way you react to it. Being mindful of events, situations and people that trigger your physical, emotional and mental reactions is the first step in managing caregiver stress. Take our free stress quizzes to assess your personal and work stress triggers.
Set realistic, positive goals. Learning to break large tasks into smaller steps can reduce overwhelm and help you prioritize challenges, feel more organized and better equipped to manage stress - before it takes over and leads to burnout.
Manage negative moods. Many caregivers spend their days stuck in stress, frustration and overwhelm. Understanding how you create unproductive states and learning to reframe and adapt your thinking can help you shift to a more positive, empowering mindset.
Improve your self-care. The stress of caregiving can leave you vulnerable to burnout - and self-care is as critical as helping loved ones get to their doctor or take their medication. Making time to be physically active, even if it's a short walk, eat a healthy well-balanced diet, get sleep and practice relaxation techniques are simple but powerful ways you can de-stress daily and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Develop new coping strategies. Deep breathing, muscle relaxation, meditation, body scanning and guided imagery are powerful mindfulness techniques for de-stressing your body and brain. In a recent UCLA study, participants who learned and practiced mindfulness for just 5 minutes a day over 3-weeks significantly reduced their stress. They also experienced an increase in life satisfaction, mastery of their environment and more positive relationships with others.
Ready to find relief? Read about our Stress Management Programs and schedule a free discovery call today. Learn how personal coaching can help you reduce caregiver stress, prevent burnout and live with greater ease, balance, joy and wellbeing.