Prioritizing Caregiver Mental Health

Stressed Out Caregiver

Written by: Julia Vulic CRC, PLPC, CPT

Chances are, we’ve all felt like the woman in the picture above. Worried about when the groceries are going to get bought, or the laundry done. Maybe you’re worried about how you’re going to get everyone to their doctor’s appointments without using up all of your PTO. OR, maybe you’re worried about what you’re going to cook for the next week because the last dental bill was a doozy and payday isn’t exactly around the corner. The worry list goes on and on. The real question is, how (and when) do you, as a caregiver, take time to care for your mental health?

The Stressed Out Caregiver

While your children’s and even greater household’s needs may take precedence over your own at times, the answer to this question is a serious one to consider. Hurley (2017) identified that “one-third, or 33 percent, of adults report changes in sleeping habits, 32 percent report headaches and 27 percent report an inability to concentrate due to stress. Not only that, 47 percent of adults report losing patience with or yelling at their partner, and 46 percent report similar behavior with their children because of stress.” Caregiver mental health affects everyone!

Taking these findings into consideration, how can you make time to care for yourself? 

Some Ideas

  • Let your family know when you’re struggling and how they could help. Don’t feel ashamed, we all need help at some point in our lives.
  • Utilize those natural supports. Enlisting the help of another family member, friend, or neighbor for even 15 minutes per day gives you 15 minutes you didn’t have before to focus on yourself.
  • Use free time on yourself! It can be tempting to use any free time to clean, prepare lunches, or other caregiving activities. Resist this temptation! This might mean lying down and listening to a quiet house, checking in with a friend you’ve been wanting to talk to, or jamming out to some of your favorite songs. Use this to focus on you and only you.
  • Consider taking up a hobby or getting back into a hobby you once enjoyed. Hobbies might seem frivolous when you have a lot on your plate, but can bring back a sense of purpose and fun! 

These are just a few suggestions. You can find other ideas here, and here.

If you are struggling with managing stress, please reach out to us. Our counselors are here to provide support to you and your family!

Sources:

Hurley, K. (2017, April 21). How Parental Stress Negatively Affects Kids. Retrieved November 12, 2018, from https://health.usnews.com/wellness/for-parents/articles/2017-04-21/how-parental-stress-negatively-affects-kids