Many of us are new at caregiving for a family member. You are now responsible for a list of unknown responsibilities that can change each day. Caregiving for someone close to you can be heart breaking and leave you feeling very alone. It can also be rewarding since you are helping a loved one to feel better. Family caregiving can cause mental and physical changes in the one that is providing the caregiving.

New caregivers are often unaware of the physical and mental effects that caregiving will have upon them. Watching a family member decline even though you are trying your best has detrimental effects on the best of us.

What physical and emotional effects can caring for a loved one have on us?

  • Caregiving will always result in stress and learning how to manage this stress is the most important thing you can do for yourself. By looking after yourself, you will be able to help a family member more without becoming resentful. Taking time for yourself is important and spending time on activities which are important to you will help.
  • Anxiety over your loved one and whether or not you are caring for them properly can lead to depression. Look for others who are in the same position as you. There are many caregiver support groups out there, either in your community or online. Take advantage of the chance to discuss your worries with others.
  • Leave time for exercise. This is the time when you need to keep yourself in top physical condition so you aren’t worn out. Either do exercises at home or join an exercise group near you.
  • Get enough sleep. Worrying may keep you awake. Drinking too much coffee or alcohol can also keep you from sleeping. Watch your diet carefully and relax with a book or by listening to music before you go to bed.

Caregiving is the time to stay organized, eat well and keep exercising. Focus on what is good around you and stay optimistic. For more information on the mental and physical effects of family caregiving, read the article here.