By Lauren Hill
Continued from part 1 of this article…..
Stress can also impact physical health. Not only can it cause serious ailments down the line, prolonged stress can also increase instances of common sickness, such as colds and flu.
This is because increased stress negatively affects your immune system. Your ability to stave off illness becomes compromised by large amounts of stress in your day to day life. Caregivers experience massive amounts of stress on a day to day basis, which can lead to being sick more often.
Self-care is crucial in this instance. While it may be difficult to ensure healthy living with so much else on your plate, you will find that taking care of yourself is of paramount importance to being able to care for others. By taking time to eat right, get a good night’s sleep (when you can), and actively de-stressing throughout the day, you will find that both your demeanor and health will improve a great deal.
Excessive Use of Drugs or Alcohol
Some caregivers choose to deal with stress through excessive consumption of drugs and alcohol. This is really just a quick fix, and can lead to even more stress in the future.
Consuming alcohol on a daily basis can have severe health effects both in the short term and long term. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it can contribute to bad moods and underlying depression. It can also increase instances of sickness by diminishing your body’s ability to fight off illness. In the long term, alcohol can have a devastating impact on your quality of life. Major illness is common in lifelong drinkers, including things like heart disease, cancer, and liver ailments.
Lack of sleep is also a consideration. An inability to get a good night’s rest can spur caregivers to rely on sleeping pills. While rest is extremely important, more natural methods should be utilized in lieu of sleeping pills. Prolonged use of sleeping aids can actually have a reverse affect, and after so long you will be forced to increase the dosage for the pills to be effective.
Neglect or Ill Feelings towards the Person you’re Caring For
If you find yourself losing your temper while in caregiver mode, it may be time for a much needed break from your duties. While this may seem impossible, it is integral to both your well being and that of the person you’re caring for.
Often we lash out at the subject of our stress, even if this person is completely innocent. This can include rough treatment, insults, general neglect, and even yelling. It’s important to remember that this is a natural reaction to stress. You are not a bad person if you lose your temper. Take it as a signal that you need to take better care of yourself in addition to the person you are so diligently caring for.
If you find yourself in a sour mood, try to find someone who can step in for a few hours. During this time, do something you enjoy, such as reading or going to the movies. While it may seem relatively minor, these little acts of self-love can vastly improve your mood.
Caring for others can be an extremely fulfilling experience. But, without proper self-care, you will be of little help to anyone else. It’s important to take a few minutes out of each day for yourself. When so much of your life is spent helping others, taking a moment for yourself is truly a charitable act.
– Guest author Lauren Hill is a contributing author for LiftCaregiving.com.