You’ve been taking care of your elderly mother for months now, and seeing her smile is a huge pick-me-up every day. But lately your energy is tapped out, your spouse isn’t happy, and you never seem to have enough time for coffee with your friends. Serving as an informal caregiver for an aging in place loved one is highly rewarding, but it can also be stressful and mentally taxing. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which means it’s also the opportune time to focus on your mental health and wellbeing as a caregiver.  

Signs of Caregiver Stress

Most days family caregivers spend so much time focusing on the mental health of their loved ones that they neglect their own. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), these are the physical signs of caregiver stress:

  • Low energy 
  • Achy, painful or tense muscles
  • Persistent headaches and illnesses 
  • Upset stomach and other GI-related problems

In addition to the lingering physical effects, caregiver stress can take these mental and emotional forms:

  • Anxiety and depression