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When the going gets tough(er)

Caregiving is often a long-term challenge, the emotional impact can mount over time. Learning to recognize the signs of burnout is important. Caring for yourself is one of the most important and one of the most often forgotten things you can do as a caregiver. When your needs are taken care of, the person you care for will benefit too.

Everyone copes differently. Allow yourself guilt-free time to learn new ways of resting, processing, and finding peace. Daily journaling, meditation, watching funny movies, engaging in creative hobbies, and talking to a trusted friend are usually helpful to reduce stress. If you are experiencing insomnia or anxiety longer than one month, you might want to reach out to a mental health professional.
Find your community. Peers can help you feel supported and may even be able to give you tips on how to deal with unique challenges. The Alliance’s Buddy Program and online communities are a great place to find others who are going through similar experiences. 
Mental health. Many caregivers find the demands of caregiving coupled with the loss of ‘what was’ and fear of what ‘could be’ often seek out a mental health counselor. Mental health counselors are experts in helping people process their experiences, find solutions for complex challenges, and maintain healthy boundaries for ongoing wellness.
Burnout. When caregivers are in a continual state of being overwhelmed, feelings of burnout can creep in. Burnout is when a caregiver experiences physical and emotional symptoms that impact their well-being because of the stress of caregiving. Some of these include loss of interest in pleasurable activities, body aches and chronic pain, difficulty sleeping, and isolation. 
Seek help. If you feel that the pressures of caregiving have taken a significant toll on your physical and emotional wellbeing, it’s time to seek help. Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional who can help you be the caregiver you want to be, without sacrificing your wellness. 
Unexpected emotions. If you're experiencing changes in your loved one's emotions or personality, this is normal. Gently maintain your boundaries, take breaks from escalating conversations, and let your loved one know they are heard. Communicate these changes to the medical team. If these issues get in the way of providing care, seek the help of a mental health professional.
Speak up. If caregiving responsibilities have become too much, let someone know. Your doctor, social worker, or other member of your care team can help find resources to help you care for your loved one in a way that is manageable and sustainable.

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