Free Workshops (next workshop February 10th at MPL)

Free Workshop on Managing Stress and Improving Your Relationships

Hosted by New Leaf Psychology Centre

February 10, 2015
6:15pm – 8:30pm

Milton Public Library
1010 Main Street East
Milton, Ontario

6:15  –    Welcome and Refreshments

6:30  –    Stress Management

Presented by Dr. Alena Strauss

You will learn what stress is and how if effects you. Emphasis will be given to stress management strategies.

7:10  –    Living Mindfully

Presented by Beheshta Jaghori

You will learn what mindful living is and how you can integrate it into your daily life in order to reduce stress and

improve your quality of life.

7:50  –    Improving Communication with Loved Ones

Presented by Dr. Sherry Van Blyderveen

You will better understand why couples have difficulties communicating with one another despite the fact that

they can communicate well with everyone else in their lives. Strategies to improve communication in

relationships with loved ones will be discussed. 

To register call Milton Public Library at 905-875-2665 ext 3263 or email information@mpl.on.ca

Caregiver Burnout

Caring for a Family Member with Physical or Mental Health Difficulties

20% of Canadians are struggling with mental health difficulties, for a total of 1.5 million children and
4.5 million adults. 13% of Canadian’s (3.8 million) are struggling with physical disabilities,
and among those over the age of 75 the rate is 43%.

The role of caregiver, whether it is of an aging parent, a family member with a physical disability or a child with mental health difficulties, can at times be overwhelming. The time, energy and finances required to care for a loved one, and the emotions associated with being a caregiver, sometimes lead to caregiver burnout, a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. Exhausted caregivers describe feeling stressed, anxious and depressed, and they report symptoms similar to those seen with depression. For example, they report irritability, loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy, social withdrawal, poor appetite, sleep difficulties, and feelings of hopelessness. In a state of burnout, a previously positive and loving caregiver may become negative and uncaring. Caregivers also often experience guilt, anger and self-doubt. Strategies to address the feelings associated with caregiver burnout are detailed below.

Guilt

We all want the best for our loved ones, and this can result in caregivers setting high standards for the care of their family members. In setting high standards for the care of their loved one, caregivers may set unrealistic expectations of themselves and may assume exclusive responsibility for the care of their loved one. When caregivers do not meet the high standards they set for themselves, it is not surprising that they then become self-critical. For example, a parent of a suicidal teen might tell herself “I should have checked on my daughter more often throughout the night”. A child of an ailing parent might tell himself “I cannot put my mom in a nursing home, I should be able to make it work at home”. Not being able to live up to self-imposed unrealistic expectations, and the resulting belief that they are not doing a good enough job of caregiving, results in feelings of guilt and shame.

In order to reduce feelings of guilt it is important to set realistic goals for yourself, accept your own limitations, and allow others to assume some responsibility for the care of your loved one. When you start to feel guilty, ask yourself whether you are being realistic or idealistic.

Anger

Many caregivers become frustrated by a lack of money, resources, and skills to effectively plan, manage, and organize their loved one’s care. They also can become angry that their loved one is suffering. Anger can be directed at their loved one, themselves, other family members, healthcare professionals, and/or a higher power. It is important to understand that anger is a normal human emotion that we experience in response to feeling a lack of control with our situation.

In order to reduce feelings of anger it is important to accept what you cannot change about the current situation, and use the energy associated with anger to change the things you can. Remember that even when you do not have control over the situation or outcomes, you are in control of your own behavior and can choose how you will cope.

Self-Doubt

Caregivers commonly question whether they are doing the right thing for their loved one, and they may become confused when they are given differing opinions from a variety of sources. Self-doubt can become exacerbated when caregivers judge their caregiving approach based on the response of their loved one, whose symptoms may vary or progressively worsen.

In order to reduce self-doubt, it is important for caregivers to educate themselves about their loved one’s illness and the treatments or care available. Remember that your loved one’s response to your care is based on a multitude of factors, including the illness your loved one is struggling with. Be realistic about your loved ones illness, their symptoms are not a reflection of your caregiving.

Self-Care Strategies

The primary strategy to prevent or treat caregiver burnout is self-care. Finding the time for self-care is often a challenge, and even when time is taken, caregivers often feel guilty for not using that time to help their loved one. However, it is important to remember that self-care is necessary to be the best caregiver you are capable of being. Self-care requires making time for breaks, and using that time for fun, socializing and rest. This may require another family member, caregiver or organization providing you with some respite (e.g. in home care, short stays in nursing homes or group homes). Self-care includes eating well, exercising, getting adequate sleep, and taking care of one’s own medical needs. Seeking support from others is also necessary for self-care. Sharing your feelings with those within your support network (e.g. friends, family, religious community), a counsellor, or another caregiver in a similar situation (e.g. support group) can be a great way to release stress and get helpful advice.

Written by Dr. Sherry Van Blyderveen
Clinical & Counselling Psychologist
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

References:
Spencer Scott, P. (2014). The seven deadly emotions of caregiving. http://www.caring.com/articles/7-deadly-emotions-of-caregiving
WebMD (2014). Heart disease and caregiver burnout. http://webmd.com/heart-disease/heart-disease-recognizing-caregiver-burnout
Canadian Mental Health Association (2012). http://alberta.cmha.ca/mental_health/statistics/#.U-5nN_IdWn8

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Nutritional Needs While Breastfeeding

After giving birth, experts say that a well-balanced diet and proper nutrition is even more important than during your pregnancy. The food choices you make will greatly influence the quality of your breast milk, and how quickly your body will rebound from the pregnancy.

You will want to include a high amount of complex carbohydrates, including:

– Whole Grains, such as brown rice, and rye or whole wheat bread,
Fruits, such as apples, berries, peaches, and melons, and
Vegetables, such as broccoli, squash, and bell peppers.

You should also ensure that you are obtaining the proper levels of calcium, protein, iron, and fat. Aim for three to five servings of fat per day and calcium-rich food.

Here are some additional nutrition tips:

– Increase your fluid intake by drinking at least one glass of water before you breastfeed, and aim for 3 Litres of fluids daily
– When choosing seafood options, opt for items that are higher in omega-3 fats, such as salmon, herring, trout, and pollock, and avoid items high in mercury such as shark, white tuna, and swordfish.
Avoid alcohol, as it takes 2-3 hours to completely exit the breast milk stream.

Eating a wide variety of foods will also change the flavor of your breast milk. This will help introduce your baby to different tastes, which can help develop their palette at an early age.

 Written by Ingrid Toombs
Registered Dietitian

 

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