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The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on caregivers. Work and personal stress and fatigue have resulted in another crisis in the United States — one related to mental exhaustion. Just last week, a study found that more than a third of healthcare workers are at increased risk of burnout.
As October is National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month, it is a good reminder that there are resources to turn to for help. DailyCaring, a website for family caregivers, and Mental Health America, a nonprofit that promotes mental health, offer important education on how caregivers can take care of their mental health.
Care for your mind and body
As mental and physical health go hand in hand, one of the best ways for caregivers to take care of their minds is to take care of their bodies. Activities such as meditation, routine exercise, eating nutritious meals and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule can go a long way in helping caregivers’ well-being.
Part of caring for the mind and body includes being kind to yourself, such as via positive self-talk. This can include seeing the small victories in everyday caregiving, reframing the way you look at negative situations and using milder wording when talking to yourself.
Take a mental health assessment
Mental Health America has an assessment tool created specifically for caregivers that offers a series of questions to help determine where the individual stands in their mental health.
Conditions the assessment screens for include depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. After receiving the assessment results, the caregiver can proceed accordingly, John Schall, CEO of Caregiver Action Network, wrote.
Ultimately seeking health and having a support network is crucial. According to Schall, this can include friends, family and/or an online support group. While it can be tempting for caregivers to isolate themselves in times of burnout, having a group of people to turn to in times of dwindling mental health is beneficial.
Along these lines, seeking professional help is a great next step to improve mental health. However, this does not need to be done in-person. Online resources such as Better Help, Calm and Talkspace can also be of assistance.
The bottom line? Mental health matters — and just as caregivers extend high levels of care toward those in their homes, it’s important to make sure they don’t neglect caring for their mental well-being.
This article originally appeared on McKnight's Senior Living