“How can you preserve your mental health as a caregiver?”
“How can you preserve your mental health as a caregiver?”
by admin | February 21, 2023 | Aware | 2 comments

A caregiver is one who provides help to another person in need, such as a patient, parent, spouse, partner, or child. Being a caregiver can be stressful, even for the most resilient person.

If you are caring for someone, remember that you can do a good job only if you first care for yourself. Be as kind to yourself as you are compassionate to others. Take some time at regular intervals to relax and process your emotions.

Self-care can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness, increase your energy, and improve both your physical health and mental health. Even small acts of self-care in your daily life can have a big impact.

By following the simple steps below, you can help yourself stay on top of the difficult duty you have so valiantly undertaken.


Caregiving is a rewarding role, but quite stressful

According to Mayo Clinic, helping another person with diseases and ailments, where they cannot help themselves, can be pretty rewarding, even if it is a 24×7 responsibility. If you have a benevolent heart, it can be profoundly satisfying to know that you are truly helping someone in distress.

But you, too, are human, after all. So there will be times when you feel frustrated, angry, disappointed, exhausted, sad, or alone. Especially if the person you are caring for is chronically ill for a long time, it may weary you more.

You must make the time to get yourself medically checked often enough, and not allow neglect of essential self-care. Some signs can help you know if you are heading for caregiver stress – or worse, caregiver burnout. Watch for these symptoms, and get to a doctor before you are unable to carry on.


Signs of caregiver stress and caregiver burnout

According to Help Guide, caregiver stress is what you may feel in the earlier stages of getting worn out by your responsibilities. The signs to watch out for are usually these:


  • Feeling agitated or constantly worried
  • Feeling tired often or feeling overwhelmed
  • Getting too much sleep or not enough sleep
  • Gaining or losing weight faster than normal
  • Becoming very easily irritated, angry, or upset
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling sad or being in a state of self-pity
  • Having frequent headaches, bodily pain, or other physical problems
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications


Caregiver burnout is the more severe form of impact on you. The signs and symptoms may include:


  • Insomnia or very disturbed sleep, night after night
  • Deep depression or frequent anxiety attacks
  • Indigestion, stomach pains, or even ulcers
  • Mental fog or periods of disorientation
  • Forgetfulness (dangerous to you and the person you’re looking after)
  • Lack of immunity, asthmatic attacks, or breathing trouble
  • Deep exhaustion, nervous debility, and shakiness
  • Impatience and irritability to a very high degree
  • Feelings of utter hopelessness and helplessness
  • Inability to carry on and a frequent weepiness


Important strategies for helping yourself

It’s most essential that you follow the priorities below:


Your #1 priority: Medicare appointments

Going to the doctor for regular checkups, to keep yourself in great health and strength, is extremely important. Whatever else you do, make your medical appointments and follow through on them – after arranging for someone else to stand in for you as the caregiver.

If you have chronic health conditions such as obesity, cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension, remember that these ailments (combined with other hereditary factors) can all have a multiplicative effect on your heart. It’s good to get your doctor’s advice on how to reduce cholesterol, manage obesity symptoms, prevent hypertension, and control blood sugar.


Your #2 priority: Healthcare routines

Ensure your diet, exercise, sleep, and relaxation plans and schedules are routinized and prioritized. It’s like the advice we get on airplanes to wear the oxygen mask before helping others. Your health basics must come ahead of everything else. Only then can you fulfill your obligations to care for others.



“Exercise is, without a doubt, a truly cathartic practice for caregivers.”



Your diet must be wholesome and nutrition-rich because you need your mind and body to perform at optimum levels. According to Mental Health America, exercise is, without a doubt, a truly cathartic practice for caregivers. It helps you ease strains, stresses, and excess nervous energy, and it pumps up the blood circulation and oxygenation of all your body cells. Additionally, healthful food and regular exercise aid in good relaxation and sleep.


Your #3 priority: All other forms of self-help

There are also these other ways to help yourself, so give them all due attention:


Set realistic goals and focus on what help you can provide

If you’ve organized your time and resources well, are generally clear in your mind, and have correctly scheduled all your priorities for each day or week, try to adhere to your system at least 75% of the time.

If you can do that, you’re doing your job well enough. Not even professional helpers can often extend quality help 75% of the time for patients, so if you can manage that or a little less, pat yourself on the back.


Set boundaries and learn to say “no” even to the patient

Some caregivers become very guilty if they have to refuse something the patient asks for. But the right thing to do always is to see that the patient is cared for but not to the extent of becoming overly demanding.

According to Annabel Arana, writing in the National Alliance on Mental Illness, it’s challenging to handle elderly patients who may not be in complete control of their minds, but you have to use your judgment to know what requests must be met and which should be refused – for the patient’s own good.


Stay connected with the outside world and accept help gracefully

There are many support groups online or at hospitals that you can join. A good support group can give you validation, encouragement, and excellent problem-solving strategies for difficult situations.



“Stay connected with the outside world and accept help gracefully.”



Also, keep your connections with friends and other family members. Stay in touch with neighbors in case you need their help. Ask your friends and family to keep some time for taking your calls. Encourage people to drop by to see you. Don’t let yourself get isolated without outside contact for days together.


Pamper yourself now and again with some feel-good activities

You can arrange for someone professional to take your place if you feel like a relaxing massage at the spa. If indoors, remember not to let go of your skincare, haircare, or grooming routines. Read books or watch your favorite TV shows. According to Aging Care, it really helps to write a journal.

Some people make the most of their caregiver time by learning new hobbies they can engage in whenever they have a spot of alone time. If you like word games, card games, or even online games, you can stay mentally alert and occupied. Keep a Sudoku or crossword puzzle book and work on it during breaks. In short, show yourself daily that you are rooting for yourself.


In summary

Embrace your caregiving choice. Focus on the wonderful reasons behind that choice. Your thoughtful and meaningful motivations can help sustain you through difficult times. Your heart is in the right place and that’s what makes you a wonderful human being. Stay heart-healthy. Be a Zinda Dil.




  1. Mayo Clinic. “Caregiver stress: Tips for taking care of yourself.” Accessed: February 13, 2023. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/caregiver-stress/art-20044784
  2. Help Guide. “Caregiver Stress and Burnout” Accessed: February 13, 2023. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/caregiver-stress-and-burnout.htm
  3. Mental Health America. “Being an Effective Caregiver.” Accessed: February 13, 2023. https://www.mhanational.org/being-effective-caregiver
  4. Arana, Annabel. National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Supporting Your Own Mental Health as a Caregiver.” Accessed: February 13, 2023. https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/November-2018/Supporting-Your-Own-Mental-Health-as-a-Caregiver
  5. Aging Care. “10 Ways to Prevent Caregiver Depression.” Accessed: February 13, 2023. https://www.agingcare.com/articles/caregiver-depression-support-142556.htm


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