Working as a caregiver is challenging and stressful, whether you are caring for a loved one or you’re on the job. Stress tends to be most taxing towards the end of the year and after the holidays. Caregiving often means putting the needs of your loved one before your own, leaving little time to focus on yourself. The more of yourself that you dedicate to caregiving and the more hats you have to wear, the more it can begin to feel like other areas in your life are fading away: your career, your social connections, and your sense of self. Over time, this can become physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting leading to caregiver burnout symptoms and seasonal stress.
Some signs that you may be feeling caregiver stress include feeling overwhelmed, heightened frustration, changes in your personality, body aches, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, problems sleeping, isolating yourself, and inability to focus. If left unresolved, this can lead to depression, anxiety, fatigue, and other stress-related health conditions.
Recognizing and managing caregiver stress and burnout symptoms, as well as knowing when to ask for help is as essential for the caregiver as it is for the care recipient. If you find yourself feeling any of these symptoms and are physically, emotionally, or mentally drained, here are some strategies to help you reduce the winter stress and decompress:
1. Pamper Yourself
Taking care of yourself is a necessity, not a luxury. Give yourself a much-needed break by splurging on a spa day and getting a massage. If you’d rather rejuvenate at home, soak in a warm bubble bath with some aromatherapy and a glass of wine. Then cozy up in your favorite loungewear to watch a holiday movie or read a book you’ve been meaning to get around to.
2. Get Active
Whether on your own or with a companion, exercise is the best way to get your endorphins pumping, shift into a more positive state, and alleviate the symptoms of caregiver burnout. The cold weather may tempt you to snuggle up in bed all day, instead try a new workout class or spend some time getting active outside in the fresh air. Take a walk, try yoga, meditate, or rearrange your furniture – you will be surprised how quickly moving your body will lift your spirits.
3. Meet with Friends
Chances are you haven’t had much time to socialize. Check out a restaurant you’ve been wanting to try with some friends, go on a hot chocolate date, or host a game night at home. Reconnecting with people you care about is a great way to make you feel like yourself again. It also serves as a great distraction from the winter stress of being a primary caregiver.
4. Get Creative
Expressing yourself through different creative mediums is a perfect outlet for decompressing some of the winter stress. Try journaling, painting, or even something as simple as going outside and making a snowman. Explore new areas of interest, try mastering a new craft, or go back to partaking in a hobby you once enjoyed, but haven’t had time for. If you don’t feel the urge to create, you can support local talent by checking out a coffee shop concert or local art gallery.
5. Ask for Help
Caregiving is a rewarding, but taxing role that can feel like a burden over time. The good news is you do not have to try to carry that burden alone. 1Heart Caregiver Services can give you the support you’re missing and peace of mind that your loved one is receiving the highest quality, in-home care they deserve. Whether you’re needing just a few hours in the week to run errands or 24/7 assistance, 1Heart will provide an affordable, customized care plan to give you the gift of time and accommodate you and your loved one’s unique situation. Take the first step and call 1(844)-8-1HEART to find the solution that works best for you.
Stepping into the role of caregiver for a loved one is never easy and the stress that comes with it is usually unavoidable. The more care an individual needs, the harder it can be on you, the caregiver, both physically and psychologically. That doesn’t mean that taking care of your health and well-being should be put on the backburner. Avoid winter stress and caregiver burnout symptoms by giving yourself breaks, taking time to recharge, and finding a balance between caregiving and doing what makes you happy. Remember that you are not alone. Do not be afraid to consider your options and seek support when you need it most. Part of being a good caregiver to your loved one means taking care of yourself, too.