The holidays can be especially hard for caregivers, as they try to juggle the responsibilities of caring for their loved one with an illness, along with all of the shopping, planning and expectations that often come with the holiday season. However, it is critical that caregivers do not neglect their own health while caring for others. Many people may be sandwiched between caring for children and caring for their parents, which leaves little time to take care of themselves. It is natural to feel frustrated, exhausted, alone or sad. Caregiver stress — the emotional and physical stress of caregiving — is common. The emotional and physical demands involved with caregiving can strain even the most resilient person. Too much stress, especially over a long time, can harm your health. Signs of caregiver stress include:
- Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
- Feeling tired most of the time
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Gaining or losing a lot of weight
- Becoming easily irritated or angry
- Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
During the holidays especially, caregiver stress can feel unmanageable. That's why it's so important to take advantage of the many resources and tools available to help you provide care for your loved one. Some tips to help manage stress include:
- Accept help from others.
- Get connected, find out about caregiving resources in your community such as classes or support groups
- Seek social support, and make an effort to stay well-connected with family and friends who can offer nonjudgmental emotional support
- Set aside time each week for connecting, even if it's just a walk with a friend
Our area is fortunate to have Cone Health Behavioral Health at MedCenter Kernersville and Cone Health Behavioral Hospital in Greensboro, both great resources for helping individuals in our area cope with caregiver stress.
Neil Mashburn is a physician assistant at Cone Health Behavioral Health at MedCenter Kernersville, specializing in psychiatry with more than twenty years of experience in family medicine. She received a Bachelor of Arts in social sciences and human services at Elon University in 1979. She completed the physician assistant program at Duke University School of Medicine in 1988.