Daily stress is a common problem for many people. Those providing
care for someone are no exception and will likely deal with additional
stressors. Caregiving often takes a great deal of time, effort, and
work, which can leave you feeling overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, and burnt-out.
As a caregiver, your stress can be influenced by various factors and situations:
Whether or not you had a choice to become the caregiver. If
you feel you had no choice in taking on this responsibility, you may
experience increased strain, distress, and
Your relationship with the patient. Caring for close family
can cause strain in the relationship if the patient feels they
aren’t getting the attention they need. Sometimes people offer to
care for a family member in hopes of healing a strained
relationship, but when healing is slow or complications arise,
feelings of regret and discouragement can occur.1-2
The patient’s overall health. Caring for a person with
dementia can be more stressful than caring for a person with a minor
If you’ve agreed to provide care for a friend or family member, be
proactive about your own stress management plan. Being prepared in
advance can help reduce your stress. As stressors can have
physiological effects, talk to your own doctor about stress-management
specific to you. Here are a few things to consider when planning to
act as caregiver:
Identify your personal signs of stress.4 Everyone
handles stress differently. While one person may internalise their
stress, become forgetful, or overly tired, others may become
aggressive, looking for an outlet to release their stress.
Identifying your early signs of stress can help you plan ways to
handle that stress before it arises.
Remember, you’re one person.1 There’s only so much
you can do and you can’t change other people. Do the best you can,
but remember that you can only do what you can do. Don’t stress out
trying to be a miracle-worker.
Open lines of communication prior to surgery.4
Talk with the patient to ensure that your expectations of the care
to be provided are aligned with theirs. That way, you both enter the
caregiving situation with the same plan.
Try to maintain a sense of balance in your
life.3,4 If you feel overwhelmed and stressed,
chances are the patient will feel that way too. Build time in your
schedule for things that bring you joy and keep you calm.
Know when to seek help.1,3,4 Understand what
resources and support are available before you begin providing
care. Don’t wait until you feel overwhelmed. Know what your
breaking points are and plan for where you will seek support should
you reach them.
- You may not wish to "burden"
others or admit that you can't handle everything yourself. But
it's okay to ask for help. Be prepared with a list of ways that
others might be able to help you. For example:
could give you a scheduled 15 minute break a few times a
- Your neighbour could help pick up groceries or
- A relative could help with paperwork
and organising bills as they arrive
- When you break down the jobs into simple tasks, it is easier
for people to help… and they do want to help. It is up to you to
tell them how.
Above all, remember that you’re not alone. There are many resources
out there to help you. It might be worth your time to visit websites
which provides a variety of resources, tools, and events for caregivers.*
Providing care for a loved one can be incredibly fulfilling. By
being prepared, knowing your signs of stress, and asking for help when
needed, you can help facilitate a positive experience for everyone.