When Our Mental Health is Affected

Is there anything you are a bit insecure about? For me, when my mental health is affected, I'm left wondering how I'm supposed to run the world like Beyoncé when I don't feel strong enough, pretty enough, smart enough, and so on. Although I struggle with this, I am working every day to turn things around by quelling my anxiety with different techniques like meditation.

As a caregiver, I realize sometimes we are under frequent stress and our ability to function and our intention is often weakened due to duress. This can create problems in our daily life.

When my mental health is affected

For example, I find that when my mental health is affected, I'm less productive in daily tasks; if I notice this in myself then it is likely that others will too. As a result, I become more frustrated with myself and with others because nothing seems to get done.

A positive mindset can be very beneficial when it comes to how we function, our productivity, and coping with the day-to-day stressors of life. Here are a few concepts that have helped me personally to stay positive and productive even when environmental factors are pulling me down:

I take time to get away from stressors. You need time away from the stressors: we all do – you included! – so take some time out of your schedule to relax and recharge if you find yourself stressed. It can result in more productivity for your task as well as lower anxiety.

I make sure to go to bed early enough, at least seven hours, uh but to be honest, this sometimes is dependent on my loved one with dementia. Sleep is crucial for staying positive throughout the day. Sleeping allows our bodies to shut down and recuperate from everyday life, meaning we wake up rejuvenated and ready to face the new day.

When you're feeling stressed or panicky

Stop what you're doing and take a couple of long, slow breaths until your mind quiets enough for you to catch said breath.

Deep inhale through the nose. Now exhale out the mouth.

There, how did that feel? Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing at all. Allowing yourself a moment or two of quiet can diffuse your heightened anxiety.

Self-care when caregiving

So let's say you're feeling overwhelmed at home – try going up and down the stairs a few times. Taking walks in nature also has been shown to reduce stress while giving us some exercise! You'll return refreshed and ready to get back into it when you sit down again.

Maybe even combine activities for maximum effectiveness. Try taking a walk around your neighborhood right after breakfast with your loved one, before tackling any chores. This activity will allow you to relax at home and keep your loved one with Alzheimer's from getting bored!

Focus on the best of you, not the stress in you

While it is important to take care of your family, you also need to remember that you cannot be your best for yourself or anyone else if you are stressed.

Communicate how you are feeling with those around you. This doesn't have to be a formal conversation, but just let them know what kind of shape you're in so they can plan accordingly to help out a bit more. Being honest about the level of stress and responsibility helps ease their minds because it's easier to help others when we feel like they understand our situation.

And our situation, dear caregiver, is this: we have got the most important job in the world – looking after ourselves. Don't forget that! It's easy to get so caught up in looking after everybody else that we can forget about our own needs but it is vital that we take the time to look after ourselves too.

When do you find your mental health is most affected by caregiving? Who or what do you turn to? Share your experiences and tips in the forums.

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