What is Caregiver Stress?
As our population ages, more and more caregiving is being provided by people who aren’t health care professionals. In fact, about one in three adults in our country provide care to other adults as caregivers. This is leading to increased instances of caregiver stress.
A caregiver is anyone who helps another person in need, such as an ill partner or spouse, an aging relative, or a disables child. But family members who are actively caring for an older adult often don’t consider themselves to be a “caregiver.”
Acknowledging this role can help caregivers get the support they want and need.
Caregiver stress is a condition that is characterized by physical, emotional, and mental fatigue. It typically comes about when a person neglects their own emotional and physical health because they’re focused on caring for an injured, disabled, or ill loved one.
Several factors play a role in caregiver stress. For some caregivers, the endless demands of caring for a person who has a serious illness can cause burnout. And for others, the absence of boundaries between their roles as a caregiver and as a child, spouse, or other loved one can be difficult.
As a caregiver, you may be so focused on the person you’re caring for that you don’t realize that your own health and well-being are being affected. These are some signs to look for:
- Feeling constantly worried or overwhelmed;
- Feeling tired too often;
- Getting not enough sleep or too much sleep;
- Losing or gaining weight;
- Getting angry or easily irritated;
- Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Feelings of sadness;
- Having frequent bodily pain, headaches, or other physical issues;
- Abusing drugs, prescription medications, or alcohol.
Challenges of Caregiver Stress
Being a caregiver entails endless amounts of energy, patience, and empathy. It is a time-consuming undertaking that can lead to burnout. If you’re caring for a loved one, it’s essential that you are aware of the challenges that caregivers face, so that you’re able to address them if needed.
Some of the challenges caregivers face include the following.
Caregivers often feel cut off from the rest of the world. With so much energy and time being spent taking care of someone else, they often don’t take any time for self-care. If you begin to feel lonely, connect with close friends and family to determine if they are able to help.
Caring for a loved one and being accountable for their health can be very stressful. With a lot of tasks to juggle, you need to take small breaks throughout the day. Even just 5-10 minutes every few hours, where you can practice relaxation techniques like breathing exercises or medication, can help alleviate some of your stress.
Another form of stress – the financial drain experienced by caregivers – must not be ignored. If you are caring for a loved one, you may be sacrificing educational or career opportunities, thereby reducing your income.
Reach out to friends and family to ask if they would be willing to help with your caregiving duties. Also, check into whether your loved one qualifies for disability.
Art Therapy for Caregiver Stress Relief
For caregivers, art therapy can provide a way to reflect and focus on your feelings and emotions as it relates to your caregiving journey. It can also offer a sense of comfort and peace.
While the role of caregiver can be empowering and rewarding, it can also leave the caregiver anxious and worn out. Regrettably, caregivers sometimes use negative behaviors to cope with their situation, such as smoking, alcohol abuse or overeating.
Developing healthy ways to cope with stress is important. If you are looking for a stress-busting option, art therapy may be worth a try.
Benefits of Art Therapy for Caregiver Stress Relief
Taking care of others can be gratifying and also can bring stress, especially if we don’t take the time to take care of ourselves. Research indicates that long-term stress can negatively affect a person’s well-being and health.
It’s important both for us and those who depend on us to take the time to refresh and replenish. Art therapy can support caregivers in many ways:
- Boost personal resilience;
- Reduce anxiety and stress;
- Increase feelings of positivity and connection;
- Facilitate the processing of bereavement and grief.
Too much stress can lead to serious health problems if left untreated. Don’t wait until it affects your health, relationships or quality of life. Contact us today for more information regarding how art therapy can help you manage the stress in your life.