Caregivers Community

Coping Strategies for Caregiver Anxiety

Brooke Phillips, CWCMS
Editor | Shield HealthCare
01/03/23  4:21 PM PST
caregiver anxiety depression

Stress is a common feeling for caregivers, both professional and family. Anxiety is a normal and typical response to stress. For caregivers, anxiety and stress are common emotions that surface in reaction to the many stressors of caregiving.

Although they overlap, there is a difference between normal, everyday stress and an anxiety disorder. With situational, “everyday” stress, anxiety usually goes away when the situation causing stress is resolved. With anxiety disorders, removing the stressor or trigger doesn’t always reduce the anxiety.

Anxiety symptoms are similar in both cases, and strategies to reduce anxiety can be useful regardless of the type of anxiety you’re managing.

Related: 5 Ways to Reduce Caregiver Stress During the Holidays


What Causes Anxiety?

Anxiety causes physical symptoms like trembling, heart palpitations, insomnia and sweating, as well as mental torment. These symptoms can impede on daily activities, responsibilities and functioning.

Symptoms of caregiver stress and anxiety include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
  • Feeling tired often
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Becoming easily irritated or angry
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling sad often
  • Having frequent headaches, bodily pain or other physical problems
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications
  • Loss of appetite and/or rapid weight change
  • Trouble concentrating and remembering


Strategies to Reduce Anxiety

1. Recognize physical changes in your body

Learn to identify when you’re becoming anxious. Do you have an upset stomach? Is your heart beating abnormally fast? Is your breath shallow and panting?

2. Practice relaxing techniques

Once you’ve identified an oncoming anxiety attack, practice a relaxing technique that works for you. These might include:

  • Deep breathing
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Centering/mindfulness
  • Chanting

3. Accept your uncertainty

Fear of the unknown can cause anxiety. Try to redirect your thoughts away from things that could go wrong and instead ask yourself these three questions:

  • Is this thought helpful? How will worrying about it now help or harm me?
  • What is the probability that this worry will happen? Is there a more likely outcome?
  • What would I say to comfort a friend who has this worry?

4. Schedule personal time to worry

If you chronically worry about things, schedule time during the day (e.g., 30 min at lunch) to allow yourself to worry. Take this time to write down what you’re stressed about as well as what you could do to resolve potential problems.

5. Avoid Triggers:

If you are able to identify triggers, avoid things that could aggravate your anxiety. These might include:

    • Poor diet
    • Not enough sleep
    • Too much caffeine
    • Financial worry
    • Self-neglect
    • Smoking
    • Alcohol
    • Over-the-counter cold medication
    • Excessive sugar

If you are unable to control your anxiety, connect with your doctor. Anti-anxiety and/or depression medication may be helpful in easing symptoms and allowing you to function with less stress. Some people find that therapy is beneficial as well.

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