Blog of local experts: 3 tips for the well-being of caregivers | windsoriteDOTca News
By Dr Anne McLachlan, C.Psych.
Advocating and supporting a family member with a severe mental health and / or addiction disorder can be rewarding, difficult, and sometimes emotionally and physically draining.
Sometimes they can be fine, take their medicine, take care of themselves and their home, attend meetings or groups, and at other times they can be sick, neglect themselves, maybe neglect themselves. not eating well, using substances, and avoiding family and friends.
Family members may be so focused on support that they neglect their own physical and mental health. Additionally, being constantly exposed to another person’s emotional pain and trying to alleviate their suffering can lead to caregiver fatigue. According to the Center for Addiction and Mental Health, signs of caregiver fatigue include: feelings of helplessness and helplessness in the face of the suffering of our loved one; reduced feelings of empathy; sleep problems; irritability; sadness, anxiety or anger; social isolation; and increased substance use.
Being aware of the caregiver’s signs of fatigue is the first step in reducing it. Take the time to sit down, breathe, and disentangle the thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations you are experiencing. Mental health care providers who practice acceptance and engagement therapy encourage us to use mindfulness to recognize that we are not what we think and feel. We are separated from our physical thoughts, feelings and sensations, and if we learn to pause, we can choose how to act rather than react. We also don’t need to accept the thoughts and emotions our loved ones feel as our own.
Set healthy boundaries
The next step is to establish healthy boundaries around the provision of support. Decide when, where, and for how long you can provide support, then communicate those limits. “I’ll talk to you every morning, but please don’t call after 11pm, I need to get some rest.” Let’s think about who else you might call late at night.
Setting healthy boundaries allows us to set aside time to take care of ourselves, which recharges us and gives us the mental and physical energy to continue to be a caregiver.
The American Psychological Association recommends that caregivers make personal care part of their daily routine and identifies 5 important activities. Relaxation isn’t just limited to bubble baths and scented candles, but also includes listening to music, birding at the feeder, or deep breathing. Self-care is about getting enough sleep by going to bed when you are tired and getting up at the same time every day. It means fueling the body and mind by eating healthy, regular meals. Daily physical activity helps both our body and our mind. It can be as simple as a daily walk and dancing to the radio, or as demanding as biking and running 5 km. And finally, socializing with friends and family is an important part of personal care, whether it’s in person, over the phone, or through a video call.
Recognizing the signs of caregiver fatigue, setting healthy boundaries, and engaging in self-care activities are three tips for dealing with the demands of caring for others.
Caring for the caregiver conference
Are you a caregiver of a loved one with a mental illness and / or addiction? Learn more about Dr. McLachlan and others by registering to attend the inaugural Caring for the Caregiver conference. Scheduled for October 16 and 23, 2021 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., this virtual event will focus on education, well-being and connections. There is no charge to participate. Depending on your schedule, you are more than welcome to register for one or both days of the conference.
About the Author
Dr. Anne McLachlan, C.Psych
Dr. Anne McLachlan, C.Psych., Is a licensed psychologist to provide services to adults and the elderly in neuropsychology, clinical psychology and rehabilitation. She received her BA from Western University and her MA and PhD. in Clinical Psychology at Queen’s University in Kingston. Over the past 27 years, she has provided neuropsychological and psychological assessments and interventions to a variety of programs (adult mental health and rehabilitation) at HÃ´tel-Dieu Grace Healthcare. Currently, she brings her expertise in the diagnosis of neurocognitive and psychological disorders as well as in psychological interventions with outpatients of the Acquired Brain Injury Program and inpatients in rehabilitation and complex medical care units. Supervising doctoral students in clinical neuropsychology at the University of Windsor, she is a mentor to the next generation of neuropsychologists.
Article sponsored by Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare, University of Windsor and WE-SPARK Health Institute.