Managing Anxiety as a Family Caregiver

Woman in fuzzy blue sweater looking anxious

Caregiving is one of the most rewarding experiences we can have, especially if we’re caring for a family member. It has many benefits, including a sense of meaning and purpose in life, but it can also be stressful and challenging. If you’re having issues balancing your own responsibilities with a loved one’s illness, it can leave you overwhelmed and anxious. While it is completely normal to feel like there are a lot of tasks to take care of, anxiety may get in the way of your ability to take care of those responsibilities if it isn’t kept in check.

What is Anxiety, and What Causes it?

Anxiety is a very strong feeling of fear or worry. With caregivers, anxiety may be caused by a variety of things, such as:

  • Juggling too many responsibilities
  • Being responsible for too many medical tasks that you aren’t prepared for
  • Feeling like you don’t have control
  • Concern about the health of your loved one
  • Uncertainty about the future
  • The emotions your loved one is feeling about their diagnosis and/or treatment
  • Your own emotions about your loved one’s diagnosis and/or treatment
  • Lack of support from family, friends, healthcare team, or the community

Signs of Caregiver Anxiety

When we have anxiety, it can affect us in almost all areas of our lives. It can cause physical symptoms, emotional symptoms, or a combination of both. If you are aware of the signs and symptoms of anxiety though, then you’ll be able to get help when you need it.

  • Worry that you can’t “turn off”
  • Nervousness and fatigue
  • Headaches, trouble sleeping, or chest pain
  • Trembling, shaking, sweating, dizziness or feeling lightheaded
  • Muscle tension, dry mouth, or nausea
  • Shortness of breath, loss of appetite, and trouble concentrating or remembering things

Pay close attention if you start experiencing these symptoms, if they aren’t being caused by medical conditions or medications then you should set an appointment to speak to your healthcare provider.

Tips to Manage Your Anxiety

Since anxiety not only affects your mood, but also affects your physical health and the care you provide to your loved one, then it is very important to take care of yourself. Balancing tasks and responsibilities while still ensuring that you have time to focus on yourself can be difficult. Instead of feeling guilty or selfish for caring for yourself, or being afraid that something may happen if you aren’t present, you may want to consider some kind of relief. You may consider respite care, or daytime activities for your loved one that give you time to yourself. Here are a few other tips that may help:

  • Ask friends, family, neighbors, and community members for help and accept it
  • Prioritize tasks, create a checklist, and make a schedule
  • Make time to check-in with yourself and spend time alone
  • Take a walk, engage in normal activities, or join a support group
  • Meditate, get a massage, or try relaxation techniques

Remember, at Homewatch CareGivers of Silver Spring, we’re here to help! We are experts when it comes to helping you find the resources you need to help with your anxiety. Contact us today to learn more or continue to browse our site for more information.

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