Bad feelings and emotions can affect the mental well-being of any person. Caregivers are especially prone to it due to the stress of caring for someone who may be afflicted with a serious disease and may be suffering from stress, depression and anger themselves. However, for caregivers, it is just not a bad condition. Poor mental health, can also impact their performance and put the safety and well-being of those under their care at risk
Below we discuss how poor mental health can affect a caregiver and a few mitigation strategies.
Effects of Poor Mental Well-being on Caregivers
Caregiving can be mentally and emotionally draining. Caregivers often complain of the following challenges.
- High Levels of Depression. Caregivers are more depressed because they feel they are getting no support. This can often lead to other mental health issues such as anxiety or abuse of their bodies through excessive drinking, eating and even drug use.
- High Levels of Stress. Given they are responsible for the well-being of the vulnerable most caregivers complain of constant stress when on the job. This often leads to decreased job satisfaction. It also impacts their mood. They get snappy and get frustrated easily. Sometimes, this can cause them to be rude to the elderly as well which can cause tension and weaken their bond.
- Neglected Personal Health. Often caregivers are so focused on their charges, they neglect their health. They may ignore any signs of disease, avoid visiting the doctor, and are enabled to keep up with their medical treatments. This, combined with the stress of caregiving, and an often unhealthy lifestyle can cause serious damage to both their mental and physical health.
How to Keep a Check on Mental Health
Caregivers must take care of themselves first. Otherwise, their performance suffers. This is neither good for the elderly nor the caregivers.
Any feel-good activity or behaviour that relaxes the mind and body is good for mental health.
Here are a few common suggestions for caregiver mental wellbeing:
- Regular Exercise. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress and improve the cardiovascular system. Regular exercise can even reduce the risk of serious diseases such as cancer and osteoporosis. It can reduce common afflictions reported by caregivers such as chronic pain and depression, facilitate better sleep, improve brain function and strengthen the body’s immune system.
- Sleeping Well. Sleep is critical for maintaining the physical and mental health of caregivers. They have an active and demanding job, so restful sleep is essential for the body to repair and heal itself daily. The brain needs to turn off and rest as well which is why humans need to sleep. A proper bedtime routine and a nighttime skincare regime can further facilitate good sleep for the caregivers.
- Managing Stress. Stress accumulates in the body in response to many situations and can lead to a breakdown. Managing stress is easier said than done. However, there are many techniques a caregiver can use to manage stress. These include getting organized, setting achievable goals, recognizing and minimizing situations that trigger stress, taking regular breaks, practicing mindfulness, keeping a daily journal and avoiding excessive unhealthy food and alcohol.
- Seeking Support. Caregivers also need support from their own families, friends or colleagues. They can act as good sounding boards and outlets for stress. The support can be emotional and informational. If friends and families are not an option, caregivers can also seek out many online groups and support organizations which can be great platforms to share their issues and get helpful suggestions. If you work for an agency, they may have already partnered with a group or have internal resources to support the caregivers and help them manage stress.
Caregivers have high-stress responsibilities which can affect their mental health and create emotional and physical strains. They need to be mindful of their physical health and mental well-being and build habits and interventions to regain balance.