Caregivers: Tips for Coping with Anxiety

August 1, 2014
Managing anxiety is key to avoiding caregiver burnout

Managing anxiety is key to avoiding caregiver burnout

Everyone faces some level of anxiety.  However, home caregivers may deal with more anxiety than others.  Often, symptoms of experiencing anxiety may be irritability, tension or depression.  It’s important to learn to identify symptoms of anxiety, triggers to anxiety and coping mechanisms for decreasing caregiver anxiety levels.

Symptoms

Unchecked anxiety causes short-term issues such as fiery tempers or difficulty sleeping, but it can also lead to longer term health problems, including hypertension and heart problems; therefore, it’s important to take time to identify symptoms that indicate anxiety.

Some of the typical symptoms associated with anxiety include:

  • Headaches
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Restlessness or excitability
  • Unexplained muscle pains or tension
  • Wandering attention
  • Hesitancy in making decisions
  • Worry out of proportion to the situation at hand
  • Difficulty in coming up with solutions to problems
  • Disproportionate anger
  • Long-term feelings of simmering anger

Management

If you have identified symptoms and determined that you are feeling anxious, the next step is to come up with ways of alleviating anxiety. Working with a doctor or mental health professional may be helpful. Additionally, there are some steps that you can take to help manage anxiety:

  • Stay active. Home caregivers often find themselves constantly on the go, but not active in a constructive sense. Finding time to perform 15 minutes of concentrated exercise can help to re-focus tension and channel it into a more productive pathway.
  • Breathe. Often anxiety causes short, rapid breathing patterns; taking time to stop and spend a few minutes with your eyes closed, breathing deeply and slowly, can help restore a little bit of calm.
  • Meditate. Building on that period of breathing by actually meditating – clearing your mind and simply becoming aware of your breathing, your environment, and your emotions – is a big stress reliever.
  • Yoga. Regularly practicing yoga is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety, as well as to get some organized exercise.
  • Avoid alcohol. Some individuals with anxiety find themselves becoming too dependent upon alcohol to alter their mood.
  • Make an effort to see others. Remaining social and in contact with people who are important and meaningful in your life is crucial to alleviating anxiety.
  • Fight back against negative thoughts.  When an especially worrying thought produces anxiety, it often helps to fight back: in other words, look at what is causing the worrying thought objectively and list reasons that the thought is irrational or based on flawed assumptions.

Home caregivers must take extra steps to make sure they remain in the best possible mental and physical health. If anxiety is an issue, seeking the help of a qualified professional is highly recommended.

Additionally, online resources such as www.caregiverstress.com can offer tools for the family caregiver.

 

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