Self Care Tips for Caregivers of Psychologically ill Patients

By Shyamolima Datta, Counselling Psychologist

Mental illness can afflict anyone and is capable of bringing about a paradigm shift in the course of life of the sufferer and his/her family members. It becomes crucial for caregivers to impart sufficient care to the sufferer in every possible way. Care giving is a challenging task, hence it is important to take care of the mental health of care giver as well.

The most essential prerequisites of care giving areloads of patience and mental strength since lack of mental strength can lead to burnout . It is important to notice the symptoms of burnout in order to maintain mental equilibrium. The symptoms of burnout include lack of energy, neglecting one’s own needs, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness , irritability, trouble in relaxing, mood fluctuations.

Whenever such symptoms are realized , it becomes crucial to relieve those symptoms. Apart from physical symptoms , a caregiver can also experience a range of emotions such as anger/resentment, anxiety and feelings of worthlessness towards life in general, feeling of guilt and grief towards the condition of loved one.

There are several ways in which burnout can be prevented :

  • Maintaining friendships :It is crucial to be social and maintain relationships because this helps in combating stress and overcoming it. It is always prudent to be socially inclined and share griefs and joys with others in order to help in keeping the mind cheerful.
  • Exercise and meditation : Exercising and meditation are important instruments in keeping the mind fresh and going. Incorporating exercise in everyday routine helps in releasing endorphins which keeps the heart and mind balanced. Walk, going to the gym, yoga, relaxation exercises are some of the activities thatcan be easily incorporated in life.
  • Speak up and share responsibilities : Sharing problems with other family members and seeking their help in the care of the psychologically ill would lead to a significant decrease instress level.
  • Engaging in meaningful hobbies : Engaging in hobbies would bring meaning to life. Reading good literature gardening, going for walk , would help in imparting a meaning to life and replenish lost energy.
  • Rewardingoneself :Positive self talkand rewarding oneself would help in motivating oneself to keep caring for the sufferer.
  • Support group :It is beneficial to join a support group in order make the road smoother.Support groups are available online and offline. These groups are good reservoirs of ideas and mental strength necessary to deal with the challenges of caregiving.
  • Going for regular health checkups : Going to the doctor for regular health checkups is a must to maintain physical health.
  • Good eating habits and sleep : Healthy eating habits and a good amount of sleep would keep stress at bay . Eight hour sleep is crucial for adults. Keeping clear of every kind distraction while sleeping is important.
  • Seek professional help :Seeking help of a counsellor or a therapist can help a caregiver in determining a plethora of ways to balance life and not feel burdened by the presence of a mentally ill patient. Professional help is not only meant for the mentally ill but also for the caregiver. Finding a good counsellor is very important.

Staying healthy is a choice and following the points mentioned above would definitely help in providing succour to a caregiver from stress.

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