The Root Causes of Caregiver Stress

gray trunk green leaf tree beside body of water. Represents the root causes of caregiver stress.
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Stress is one of those words that is both big and vague. Stress feels big because of the weight that it can bring with it. There is a burden we feel on our shoulders when we are stressed. And vague in that it encompasses so many different thoughts and feelings. We may not know exactly why we are stressed. But we know what we feel.

If you are a caregiver to a loved one who is dealing with a chronic condition or disability, you may be experiencing caregiver stress. But what, exactly, is caregiver stress? Sometimes it is defined as the physical and emotional stress of caregiving. That definition is still a bit vague, though, isn’t it?

I like to define caregiver stress as the physical and nonphysical symptoms of caregiving. But again, that’s not a clear definition of what you may be experiencing as a caregiver. It doesn’t tell you the root causes of caregiver stress. So, let’s dive deeper.

Physical and Nonphysical Health

When you are the caregiver to a loved one with a chronic condition, the focus so often is on your loved one’s health. But, in the meantime, what is happening to you?

When a loved one gets sick and you are managing their care for weeks, months, or even years, your mental well-being can suffer. You may feel anxious, overwhelmed, tired, isolated, or even resentful. When mental stress persists, you may develop physical health problems. Examples include high blood pressure, fatigue, and frequent sickness. Little time or energy is left to nurture relationships. And you may find it difficult to find inner peace with these new circumstances.

Quietly, your life has become off-kilter. Stressed. Caregiver stressed.

And so, therein lies the root causes of caregiver stress:

It is the poor mental health that comes from worry, overwhelm, depression, or even resentment and anger.

The physical health problems that result from persistent mental stress.

The spiritual unrest that you feel when you are struggling to accept negative circumstance. Or difficulty finding meaning in suffering or purpose in your daily activities.

And the poor social health that comes from social circles that have shrunk, leaving you feeling isolated and alone, as if no one understands what you are going through.

But all is not hopeless.

Where Can You Thrive?

I like this quote from Michael J. Fox. Talking about his journey to accept his Parkinson’s Disease, he says that,

” … just put it in its proper place. Then see how much the rest of your life you have to thrive in, and then you can move on.”

Michael J. Fox

Can you put your loved one’s suffering in its proper place? Ask yourself, “Am I doing the best I can to help my loved one manage their health?” If the answer is yes, take comfort in that. And then accept that the results are out of your control.

Next, can you see what other parts of your life you can thrive in? Or, another way to think about it is to ask, “Where do I want my life to improve or be better?”

There can be many answers here.

Is there a relationship you want to nurture more?

A hobby you want to return to.

Do you want to improve your health with more physical activity?

Do you need to spend time working through inner conflict or unsettled feelings?

Your answer will emerge from your values, priorities, and circumstances. But the good news is that you have the power to choose where you want to create change and begin thriving again.

Finally, the goal is not to eliminate caregiver stress. The truth is caregiving is stressful. You are doing some of the hardest work of your life. The goal is to learn how you can take control of your caregiver stress so that you can live as well as possible. Even in these circumstances.

I am in the process right now of creating a video series to help you do just that – conquer your caregiver stress. I will keep you updated as I get closer to releasing this material. In the meantime, if you need guidance and support on how to find where you can thrive, let’s work together. Learn more about my coaching services here.

Disclaimer: This blog is a resource through which you may obtain information regarding your health and wellness.  Information is intended for the general reader and is not a substitute for medical advice.  The content in this blog is intended to be informational only and not interpreted as specific advice for you.  There may be delays, omissions, or inaccuracies in information contained in this blog. You should always consult with a licensed healthcare professional who is familiar with your health and past medical history before making any changes you may read about in this blog.

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