Caregiver Stress 5 Ways to Build Resilience

Caregivers face many challenges that can affect their physical, emotional, and mental health each day. Since the pandemic, more caregivers are investing 10+ hours a week supporting a family member, friend or neighbour. Caregivers say they are exhausted, overwhelmed, and worried. Half say their mental health is worse than a year ago and 58% say they feel burnt out.  It’s important for caregivers to consider strategies that can support their own mental health.

Strengthening resilience to stress may help to bounce back from sadness and exhaustion. Resilience is about:

  • how we adapt in a healthy way to stress
  • how we build positive perspective
  • how we learn and recover from a difficult experience/situation

It can help protect us from developing fatigue and burnout. When thinking about your own wellness, consider if these resilience building techniques may help:

5 Resilience Building Techniques

  1. Belonging – Do not “go at it alone.” An important factor in strengthening resilience is having strong connections with family and friends who are supportive and caring. Having these relationships can help boost your emotional strength.
  • Perspective – Remind yourself of what your moral compass points are and do not lose sight of where you want to go. Strengthening your core beliefs and finding support in them can help build resilience.
  • Acceptance – Change is a part of caregiving. Accept circumstances that cannot be changed and turn your focus to what you can control.
  • Hope – Try not to focus on difficult thoughts for too long. Do your best to focus on finding a long-term goal or resolution. Accept that life is imperfect and try to find balance during challenging times.
  • Humour – A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it lightens your load mentally and induces physical changes in your body. Use laughter to help manage stress and challenging situations.

Resilience is a learned skill. For caregivers, it changes over time as demands and circumstances shift with our responsibility. It can be developed through behaviour, thoughts, and actions. Remind yourself of what you are capable of as a caregiver and show up for yourself.

Sources:

The above content was adapted, in part, from an Ontario Caregiver Organization webinar presented by Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe is a multi-award-winning psychology and education instructor who specializes in resiliency, navigating stress and change, leadership, and personal wellness in the workplace. Described as transformational, engaging, and thought-provoking, Robyne’s keynotes provide practical strategies grounded in global research and case studies that help foster resiliency within others and ourselves. Robyne is available for consultation, training and professional development opportunities ranging from one-to-one to company-wide initiatives.

You can learn more about Dr. Robyne here: www.robynehd.ca

The following are some helpful OCO resources and links:

Caring for the Caregiver: Promoting your Own Mental Health

Accepting & Acknowledging Help

Caregiving & Managing Changing Family Relationships

How to Help Someone You Care for Access Mental Health and Addiction Support

The Reality of Caregiving for Mental Illness and/or Addiction 

Finding Hope for Caregivers of Mental Illness and/or Addiction 

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