Caregiving is a noble profession and not everyone can take on the challenge of being a caregiver. Caregivers need to focus all their attention on their clients. Spending an extended period alone with someone with complex care needs, especially in situations such as a COVID-19 lockdown, can create an additional burden of responsibility. This can result in caregivers not paying attention to themselves, which can lead to stress and sickness.
A healthy mind is just as important as a healthy body. Both mental health and physical health are necessary to keep us happy and strong. Therfore, caregivers need to take care of both mind and body to be able to cope with the stresses of caregiving and be able to deliver care efficiently and effectively.
Here are a few tips which caregivers can follow to manage stress and maintain health.
1. Stay Connected
You need to maintain a social circle that is not limited to the elderly in your care and their families. It is good to go out and socialize with friends and independently pursue activities such as sports and entertainment.
If infection risk is an issue, you can still maintain contact with your friends through online tools such as Zoom and Facetime.
Regular breaks with friends can refresh your mind and recharge your body. However, your social activities mustn’t interfere with your care responsibilities and you should never discuss your client’s situation and personal details with any of your friends and acquaintances
2. Get Support
Sometimes support from friends is not enough. You may need professional support. There are many caregiver support groups and resources available across Ontario which you can tap into. We have provided some useful links here.
Support groups help with mental stress as they encourage you to talk about your feelings and emotions. It is a great way to unload all your worries. As caregiver support groups help you connect and engage with other caregivers, you can also get information on how to overcome various caregiving challenges.
3. Find Alone Time
You need time for yourself too. You should plan for breaks and vacations, but make sure that you give the families ample notice so they can arrange for backup care.
Sometimes, a primary caregiver cannot leave the care recipient for long. So, just taking an hour or two to catch a movie reading a book outside or going for coffee, while ensuring there is no infection risk, can help in reducing your stress.
Even going on a walk on your own is a good way of relieving stress. Set aside some time every day for a quick walk and some exercise. If weather permits, do it outside.
4. Pursue a Hobby
Taking up or maintaining a hobby is a great way to reduce the stress of being a caregiver. Even something simple, such as reading books can give you a break from the daily routine.
You should organize the pursuit of your hobbies around the schedule of your client, for example, when they are resting or sleeping, so you do not get interrupted.
If you share a passion or a hobby with the person in your care, it is even better. It can help you strengthen your connection with them.
5. Stay Informed
One of the best ways to manage stress in any job is to keep yourself informed and knowledgeable. Competent professionals perform better at their jobs and face less stress. Make sure that you maintain your caregiving knowledge and competency.
In addition, reach out to family physicians or telehealth services if you have any questions about the medical conditions of your clients. They can also guide you on how to care for them.
There are many free online resources available for you to get training on the latest caregiving techniques. You can find some of them on our useful links page here. We have also provided a lot of caregiving tips in our resources page here.
Many agencies, such as ConsidraCare provide free training and certifications to their caregivers. Make sure you take full advantage of them.
6. Try Meditation
Meditation has been shown to carry many benefits such as lowering blood pressure, boosting the immune system, and improving concentration. Setting aside even a few minutes a day to meditate, whether through yoga, relaxation or practicing your faith can help you tremendously with doing your job better and coping with the pressures of caregiving.
7. Practice Self-Care
Taking care of yourself emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually is key to managing stress and delivering the best possible care. Self-care is not just about sleeping eight hours daily and eating healthy. It is also important to take regular breaks, go out, celebrate small wins and pamper yourself now and then. Make sure that you do not compromise your own care while caring for someone else.