Mental Health Tips for Caregivers
Taking care of someone with schizophrenia can be emotionally taxing. Many caregivers experience anxiety, depression, and high levels of stress. About one in three family caregivers has an emotional disorder, research shows. While you may be focused on your loved one, it's important to care for your own mental health, too. Follow these tips to give your mind and soul a little TLC.
Ask for Help
You may be the primary caregiver, but you don't have to do it all on your own. Speak up when you feel overwhelmed. Family, friends, mental health professionals, and community groups may be able to assist you.
When friends and family say, "Let me know if I can help with anything," take them up on the offer. Give them a few ideas and let them choose. They might be able to help with errands like grocery shopping. Or they could drive the person you care for to a medical appointment.
Enlist Emotional Support
It's normal to feel angry, sad or frustrated. Don't keep your feelings bottled up. Talking with others can remind you that you're not alone. Call a supportive friend or family member. Try talking with a spiritual leader, therapist, or another caregiver.
In addition, consider joining a support group for caregivers of people with mental illnesses. You may find it easier to open up to people who understand what you're going through. Group members can offer advice, coping strategies, and encouragement. The National Alliance on Mental Illness offers several different types of support groups. Find the right one for you here.
Take Care of Your Body
A poor diet can make you feel tired and sluggish. Eating right helps you manage stress and improves your general well-being. You don't have to spend a lot of time cooking to eat well. Keep healthy snacks on hand to avoid reaching for chocolate or chips when you're stressed. In addition, aim to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal.
Regular physical activity also helps bust stress and lifts your mood. Brisk walking is a good option. Go for walks with the person you care for, if he or she is able to join you. Aim for 30 minutes of activity five days per week.
Have More Fun
One of the best ways to de-stress is to do something you enjoy. Read a chapter of a novel, play with your pet, or take a hot bath. Or take five minutes to call or email a friend or family member. Talking with them can be an instant mood-booster.
Take Mental Health Symptoms Seriously
Dealing with a mental disorder such as depression or anxiety can make it harder to be a caregiver. These disorders are treatable. So if your feelings are interfering with your day-to-day life, talk with your doctor. He or she may recommend counseling, medication, or a combination of both.
Remember, it's not selfish to take care of your physical and mental health. Caring for yourself benefits both you and your loved one.
When friends say, "Let me know if I can help with anything," take them up on the offer. Give them a few ideas and let them choose.
It's normal to feel sad or frustrated. Talk with a friend, family member, spiritual leader, or therapist.
Consider joining a support group for caregivers of people with mental illnesses.
Take care of your physical health, too. Eating right and exercising helps you manage stress and improves your mood.
Dealing with depression or anxiety can make it harder to be a caregiver. If your feelings are interfering with your day-to-day life, call your doctor.
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