April 16 marks National Stress Awareness Day, a time for us all to reflect on the stress that is a part of our daily lives and to recognize and support those who are currently experiencing especially high levels of stress.
On a day like today, perhaps no one is more deserving of our support and gratitude than caregivers. Caregivers are often the unsung heroes of families across the country, as they selflessly step up to provide for others who are suffering due to health concerns.
Whether a caregiver is charged with looking after someone who is living with a devastating cancer like mesothelioma or temporarily watching over others in need, their support plays an invaluable role in our society.
Noticing Caregivers Under Stress
According to the Mayo Clinic, roughly 1 of every 3 American adults is an informal caregiver for another adult. Often these informal caregivers have little-to-no medical background. Many caregivers also work a formal job on top of taking care of someone.
While caregiving can certainly be rewarding, it also comes with a tremendous amount of stress.
As a result, caregivers can easily find themselves feeling “burnt out” — experiencing exhaustion, frustration, sadness, and loneliness. With their energy so squarely focused on the person or people for whom they care, caregivers may wind up neglecting their own health and well-being. Such neglect can sometimes lead to serious health issues for caregivers.
To help a caregiver you know, look for the telltale signs of stress. Signs of caregiver stress may include (but are not limited to):
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Disrupted sleep or lack of sleep
- Constant or prolonged feelings of worry
- Irritation or anger
- Loss of interest in hobbies/activities
- Substance abuse
It’s always important to remember that when a caregiver experiences too much stress, it can ultimately hurt their health. In fact, prolonged stress is associated with health issues such as heart disease and diabetes.
Helping the Caregivers in Your Life
On National Stress Awareness Day, take some time and energy to both thank and show support for the caregivers that you know. There are any number of ways you can step up to help caregivers — by providing emotional, spiritual or even logistical support.
To help ease the stress load that caregivers bear, consider lending a helping hand in any of the following ways:
- Run their errands
- Pick up their groceries
- Take care of their household chores, like raking the leaves, cleaning, or mowing the lawn
- Offer your emotional support
- Complete daily routines, like walking their dog
- Coordinate respite care for them and their loved one
- Provide spiritual support, such as driving them to or from worship
Caring for a sick loved one is one of the most selfless acts a person can undertake. Caregivers sacrifice their time and energy for the betterment of someone else.
For those of us who are in a position to do so, the least we can do is provider caregivers with the love and support they need.