Caring for an individual who is suffering from active addiction or who is in early recovery is often a labor of love. These individuals require help, but too often, the addiction caregiver neglects their own self-care. Caring for someone suffering from any type of disease can cause tremendous worry and stress. Over time, this stress can even affect a person’s physical well-being.
If you are a caregiver, it’s important for you to take steps to ensure your own mental and physical well-being. The following tips can help.
Be Aware of the Signs of Stress
Too often, caregivers continue to provide support even when they’re exhibiting signs of stress and strain. The ultimate goal is to care for their loved one, but they should keep in mind that caring for someone else must include some measure of caring for the caregiver.
Knowing the signs of stress and making a real effort to address them is essential. Some common signs of stress include:
- Feeling anxious or sad
- Displaying signs of anger or irritability
- Experiencing headaches
- Digestive issues or pain
- Feeling unusually tired
- Losing or gaining weight
- Feeling overwhelmed
Simplify Your Other Obligations
An addiction caregiver’s own obligations—holding a job, maintaining family responsibilities and keeping up a household—can keep a person busy. Add the care of someone suffering from addiction to the mix and the level of busy seems to increase exponentially.
If you’re feeling stressed, it can be helpful to simplify any aspects of your life that you’re able to. Choosing a few priorities to handle is fine, but it may be necessary to farm out other responsibilities like cleaning, cooking or other chores. Trying to maintain everything you used to do may not be sustainable for you while you’re caring for an addicted loved one.
Maintain a Basic Self-Care Regimen
If you’re caring for someone who requires a significant amount of your time, you might inadvertently sacrifice caring for yourself. While this is common among caregivers, particularly those who are family members, it is a habit that you need to break if you are going to provide care for the long haul. Think about making a list of things you will do for yourself each day. Showering, getting eight hours of sleep, eating three meals and performing some fitness activity are a few daily musts that can help you keep stress at bay so you are better able to meet all of your responsibilities.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Know that no one at the level of care your loved one needs surpasses your own level of knowledge and expertise. If your loved one has not yet entered rehab for their addiction, it may be time for them to do so. Make a point to talk to an addiction specialist so you can get the help your loved one needs to get on the road to recovery. After treatment, ongoing support may still be needed, but you’ll be better prepared to provide this help if you take steps to care for yourself too.