Symptoms of Caregiver Stress
The roles and responsibilities of a caregiving can come unexpectedly and restructure your entire life. You may feel a sense of being overwhelmed at trying to manage all of the moving pieces that come with caregiving. Feelings of stress are normal and appropriate given the context of the role you are taking on, but what exactly are these feelings and symtpoms?
In this blog, we want to emphasize the importance of identifying the signs and symptoms of stress so you can address them appropriately. Many times, signs and symptoms of stress are subtle and insidious. For example, you may feel stressed in your day to day activities, but the kinds of lingering effects stress have on your body and everyday life can be hard to identify upon first glance. In this blog, we will go over both the obvious symptoms of stress, as well as the harder-to-identify symptoms that are equally important to address.
(1) Physical sings of stress:
The physical signs of stress are often associated with tension in the body. Feelings of nervousness, aggravation, or even anger. Also, the feeling of being overwhelmed or not having enough time in the day to accomplish what you need to do can also be incorporated in these feelings. Stress can also manifest in anxious thoughts and feelings.
(2) Impacts on Sleep:
One area to which you should pay attention is your sleeping pattern. People who are stressed often experience disturbed sleep, like inability to fall or stay asleep. This can result in a chronic feeling of tiredness and exhaustion throughout the day. If you are waking up every morning feeling unrested or exhausted, you are likely experiencing disturbances to your sleep.
(3) Weakened Immune System:
Stress impacts your immune system, resulting in a higher likelihood of getting sick, like catching the cold multiple times a year.
(4) Changes in Psychological Health:
Stress can impact your emotional and mental health. One common symptom of stress is depression, or feeling down, hopeless, lethargic, and overall sadness. Many times, depression has multiple complex causes in addition to stress, like lack of sleep. Sometimes the symptoms of stress can lead to further symptoms, creating a vicious cycle.
(5) Changes in Appetite:
Stress can also impact eating habits, causing you to feel less hungry throughout the day or the opposite, eating more and more. Whichever way it goes, it can be unhealthy, since not eating and overeating have negative health consequences.
How to Manage Stress
Managing stress is easier said than done, but tackling it head on will help alleviate the symptoms. Also, the symptoms of stress can create a vicious cycle which compound and exacerbate feelings of stress. For example, stress leads to sleep disturbances, which leads to tiredness, and tiredness leads to a decreased ability to handle stressful situations, producing more stress, causing further sleep disturbances, and so on. The key to managing stress is to incorporate activities that help address the multiple facets of stress. For example:
(1) Prioritize Sleep:
Try to set a bed time every night and get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep. Try not to take naps during the day as this can disturb your sleeping schedule. Avoid electronics at night time as the “blue light” emitted from the screens of computers, TVs, and smart phones can decrease melatonin levels released in your body, which are important to help you fall asleep.
Exercising can help you alleviate stress immediately by having direct positive influences on chemicals release in your brain, as well as help you fall asleep better at night. Try to incorporate exercise into your schedule for at least three days a week at thirty minutes to an hour per exercise session.
(3) Seek Help:
Find a counselor or support group in your area where you can share the stresses you are experiencing. Talking through your experiences is crucial for your mental health, and it allows you to find solutions through productive conversations with other people. Additionally, professional counselors can also give you tips on how to alleviate the stresses of caregiving, whether it’s through meditation practices or time management techniques.
If you have questions, please call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website.