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Caregivers do a lot. To continue doing all that you do, it’s important to put your health first. Learn how you can stay well and take better care of yourself as a caregiver.  

Signs of caregiver stress

Signs of caregiver stress

As a caregiver, you may be too focused on your loved one. Sometimes you may not realize that your own health and well-being are suffering. Watch for these signs of caregiver stress:

  • Feeling overwhelmed or always worried
  • Feeling tired often
  • Getting too much sleep or not enough sleep
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Becoming easily irritated or angry
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling sad
  • Having frequent headaches, bodily pain or other physical problems
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications

More about caregiver stress and burnout

Get help in a crisis

If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or others, get help now. You can contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline if you are having mental health-related distress. You can also get in touch if you’re worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.

Through this lifeline, you can connect with a trained crisis counselor at any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Self-care for caregivers

Self-care for caregivers

Only when we first help ourselves can we effectively help others. Caring for yourself is one of the most important things you can do as a caregiver. It’s also one of the most often forgotten. What happens when your needs are taken care of? The person you care for will benefit, too.

Here are some ways to help you manage caregiver stress:

  • Accept help. Make a list of ways that others can help you. Let the helper choose what they would like to do. For example, a friend may offer to take the person you care for on a walk a couple of times a week.
  • Focus on what you can provide. It's OK to feel guilty sometimes. Just understand that no one is a "perfect" caregiver. Believe that you are doing the best you can and making the best decisions you can at any given time.
  • Set realistic goals. Break large tasks into smaller steps that you can do one at a time. Prioritize, make lists and set a daily routine. Learn to say “No” to requests that are draining, like hosting holiday meals.
  • Get connected. Find out about caregiving resources in your community. Many communities have classes specifically about the disease your loved one is facing. Caregiving services such as rides, meal delivery or housekeeping may be available.
  • Join a support group. A support group can provide encouragement and make you feel seen. It can also provide problem-solving tools for tough situations. People in support groups understand what you may be going through.
  • Seek social support. Make an effort to stay well-connected with family and friends. Lean in to the ones who offer nonjudgmental emotional support. Set aside time each week for connecting, even if it's just a walk with a friend.
  • Set personal health goals. You can set goals to establish a good sleep routine or find time to walk or exercise on certain days of the week.
    • Many caregivers have issues with sleeping. Not getting quality sleep over a long period of time can cause health issues. If you have trouble getting a good night's sleep, talk with your doctor.
  • See your doctor. Get recommended screenings and see your doctor regularly. Make sure to tell your doctor that you're a caregiver. Don't hesitate to mention any concerns or symptoms you have.


More about self-care for caregivers

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