How to Reduce Stress as a Family Carer

Do you care for a family member, such as a parent or grandparent? Read our article on how to reduce the stress in your life.

Do you care for a family member, such as a parent or grandparent? Whether you do this full-time or as part of your schedule, as a family caregiver you might experience stress in your day-to-day life. Caring for a loved one can be a taxing experience. Read our article on how to reduce the stress in your life when caring for a family member.

Just because family caregiving is a duty rather than a job doesn’t mean it isn’t stressful. In fact, some might argue that caring for someone is even more stressful for a family member, who has a lifetime of history and memories with that person, meaning that it is so much more taxing when emotions run high. Our research shows that 88% of family caregivers feel that they neglect their own health and wellbeing in place of caring for another. Here are some thoughts on why family caregivers can struggle with their load.

  1. This feels like a burden, and I feel guilty about it. Just because your family member needs care doesn’t mean that you are the best person to provide it. Some people have a wonderful predisposition towards caring roles, but others don’t. This doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or a bad son/daughter, it’s just another example of the wonder that we are all different. If caregiving for a family member is burdening you, this is a clear sign that you need to share the load.
  2. I feel like I’m doing everything wrong. While Care Professionals have training and experience in caregiving, family members usually don’t. That doesn’t mean relatives can’t be great caregivers, but it can be a lot to take on, especially at a time which might already be proving stressful (such as dealing with the illness / fragility / diagnosis of dementia of a family member). Many family caregivers know little about social care, and perhaps don’t realise the options available to them.
  3. I’ve got too much on my plate, and caregiving is the last straw. Many family caregivers feel exactly this – however much they want to be there for their loved ones, they already have too much going on (such as a job/family/children/social commitments, etc). Taking on more than you have time for will result in speedy burnout. Avoid this stress by recognizing early on that you can’t do everything alone.

Everyone deals with stress in different ways, but perhaps some of these suggestions will speak to you. Take time to try out these methods for reducing stress in your life to benefit both yourself and those you care for.

  1. Spend time alone. If you are a full-time family caregiver (or fitting family care into an already busy schedule) it can feel like you don’t have much time to yourself. Being around other people 24/7 can be stressful, even if they’re the people we love and want to take care of. Having quiet time on your own is a great way to recharge and drown out the noise from having too many interactions with others in your daily life.
  2. Take up a hobby. Finding time for yourself is a great way to reduce stress and feel like you’re living your own life, and not just spending every minute caring for someone else. If you don’t feel enthusiastic about doing your usual things, taking up a new hobby could be a great way to inspire yourself and reduce stress at the same time. See our section below on inspiring local groups that you might want to join.
  3. Accept/Ask for help. When you’re a family caregiver, it’s easy to try and carry everything on your own. Accepting offers of help can feel like an admission of failure, or perhaps a confession that caregiving isn’t what you want to be doing. Asking for help shouldn’t be viewed negatively – it is the means to providing the best possible care for your loved one, and yourself. Afterall, you can’t pour from an empty cup, and if you burn out from pushing yourself too far, that won’t be good for anyone. Help could be found in the offers from other family members to share some of your tasks, or in employing a Care Professional through a trusted social care provider like Home Instead.
  4. Be realistic. Is caregiving for a family member really something you can fit into your life? There’s no shame in admitting that, between your job, looking after your kids and having a bit of time to yourself, you don’t have the capacity to take on everything yourself. Whether you decide to delegate to other family members or employ a Care Professional to help a loved one, making a realistic plan is going to provide the best and most sustainable care plan.
  5. Join social and support groups. It’s easy to feel isolated when you become a family caregiver, but a great way to combat this is to join social and support groups, either on your own or with your family member. For example, taking your parent to a dementia support group will enable you both to get some much-needed variety and interaction with others.

Local Groups for Wimbledon and Kingston

  1. If you want to have a bit of light exercise bit can’t commit to a strict class schedule, Annette Wiik runs drop-in yoga classes on Wimbledon Common each week. Click here to sign up.
  2. The Wimbledon Book Club meet up monthly to discuss all things literary. If you enjoy reading, click here to find out more.
  3. You might need to just off-load and talk to someone about the stress you are under. There are many licensed therapists in the Wimbledon and Kingston area who would be able to offer you professional help and support. Visit the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapists for therapists local to you. Some even offer zoom sessions.

Don’t let the stress of caring for a loved one grind you down. If you need to lessen your load and enlist some top-quality help to support your family members, Home Instead Wimbledon and Kingston is a trusted local company with a great reputation.

Get in touch to find out what we can do for you.