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Tips for Caregivers
By: Andrew Pacholyk MS, L.Ac.

Whether you are in the health care profession or taking care of a loved one or friend, being a caregiver is a gift. It is a great opportunity to put someone else's needs before yours. We all need help at one time or another in our lives. We may also need to help others when the situation calls for our assistance.

Caregiver burnout is a common problem. It is difficult to be around someone who is in pain or has a debilitating situation often because we love them so and find it difficult to see them like this. Also, when someone is ill, in pain or not well, there is a certain energy about them that is not the norm.

Because of this energy deficit or imbalance, it can be a real challenge to be around them for periods of time.

The National Alliance for Caregivers makes these suggestions:

  1. Find someone you can talk to and discuss your feelings. All feelings are legitimate, even those that upset you (anger sadness, guilt).

  2. Set realistic goals. Balancing work, family, and time for you is difficult. Determine your priorities, and turn to other people for help with some tasks.

  3. Make time for yourself, even if it's just an hour or two. Go to a movie, have lunch with a friend, or just sit and read a book.

Preventing Burnout

Caring for another person, especially over a long period of time, can be physically and emotionally draining. You may find yourself feeling listless, forced to do routine tasks, and wishing to be someplace else. If this sounds familiar, you are a candidate for caregiver burnout.

  1. Join a caregiver support group: Check the newspaper or local library to locate one in your area. Sharing experiences with others can help you manage stress, locate resources, and reduce feelings of isolation.

  2. Talk to a professional: The clergy, social workers, psychologists, and nurses are often trained to provide counseling on caregiving issues. Help may also be available through your employee assistance program.

  3. Take advantage of respite care: Respite care is a service that provides temporary care for an older person. Respite care may mean help with a specific task or having health care providers care for your relative at home or in a extended care facility while you go on vacation.

  4. Recognize signs of stress: Stress can take its toll on you in many ways. Be aware of changes in your thinking, in your physical health and in your behavior.

Signs of Stress

Stress related symptoms can include a feeling that something undesirable is about to happen, dry mouth, swallowing difficulty, hoarseness, rapid breathing and heart palpitations, twitching or trembling, muscle tension, headaches, backaches sweating, difficulty in concentrating, dizziness or faintness.

The single most important point you can make about stress is that in most cases it's not what's out there that's the problem, it's how you react to it. How you react is determined by how you perceive a particular stress.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, an imbalance of energy or Qi in a particular meridian or organ system can cause physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. When emotions are held on to over long periods of time, or when they result from a particularly stressful or traumatic event, they can become causes of illness. Emotions also can result from an imbalanced flow of Qi or blood. Therefore, emotions can be the cause or the symptom of a disorder.

A TCM practitioner aims to restore balance to the body. When the body's energy is flowing properly to all tissues of the body, a person is better able to deal with stress and its effects. The TCM practitioner will diagnose the effects of stress on the different body systems.  Acupuncture is an effective therapy for the treatment of stress/anxiety disorders. Acupuncture redirects your chi into a more balanced flow. It provides support to the underlying energetic spheres affected by your anxiety, helping to resolve the cause or effects of your stress. Acupuncture releases tension in the muscles. This allows increased flow of blood, lymph, and nerve impulses to affected areas, decreasing the stress experienced by you. Acupuncture also is effective in relieving the physical symptoms associated with stress-related and anxiety disorders, such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Neck and shoulder tension...

The specific course of treatment depends on the nature and severity of your symptoms.   

About the Author: Andrew Pacholyk, MS, L.Ac is a licensed acupuncturist and certified herbalist with a full time practice in New York City. Andrew specializes in rejuvenating therapies based in the ancient Chinese Medical approach to Endocrinology, Gynecology and Pain Management. By improving circulation and an increase in metabolism, Andrew treats hormonal imbalance, infertility, menopause and menstrual disorders, as well as increasing blood flow and vital energy in order to decrease pain, trauma and with its associated symptoms. Discover more about Andrew, his practice and his life's work at http://www.proacumed.com and http://www.peacefulmind.com