Caregiver stress and overload happens when you don’t have time to do all that’s asked or expected of you. If you are stressed, you may feel like no matter what you do it’s not enough, or like everything is on your shoulders. Caregiver overload causes stress. It can lead you to eat or sleep poorly, neglect your health, or abuse alcohol or other substances. It may lead to feelings of anger, anxiety, fatigue, or loneliness.
Here are some tips:
- Ask for help and accept it! Make a list of everyone who may be able to help you out. Make a list of the things that can be done by other people like running errands. Then, ask others to do things for you.
- Take time for yourself. Ask a friend or family member to stay with the patient or hire someone to give yourself time off to shop, go to a movie, or visit a friend.
- Talk to someone—a trusted friend, counselor, family member, or clergy member.
- Join a support group like My Cancer Circle, which is especially for caregivers of people with cancer.
- Help the patient do as much for him or herself as possible. This will be good for both of you.
- Take care of yourself. Eat well, drink enough water and other fluids, and try to get some exercise every day, even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood. Get regular medical and dental checkup.
- Learn to say "no" when someone asks you to do something that you don’t need or want to do, and/or that may be draining like hosting a holiday meal.
- Make a list of priorities for each day. Set realistic goals.
Call your doctor or 911 immediately if you feel like you could hurt yourself or someone else.
Also, talk to your doctor if you are:
- Abusing drugs, alcohol or other substances
- Over- or under-eating
- Experiencing stress, anger, anxiety, depression, fatigue, or sleep problems lasting two or more weeks