Caregiving is a rewarding exercise. However, working women who double as caregivers are susceptible to caregiver stress, characterized by physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. How can leaders and managers help them?

Centuries of conditioning have made women believe and accept that they are the sole caregivers to families. This tendency is often reflected in the workplace too; they aspire to keep up a brave front even in the face of adversity and this may often lead to a state of mental fatigue. Eventually, caregivers are bogged down in what is clinically identified as caregiver stress.

Acknowledging caregiver stress and finding ways to help team members and peers suffering from the condition is increasingly being recognized as an ethical as well as a business necessity, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic. Here are four ways in which leaders, managers, and colleagues can render support to those impacted by the condition.

  1. Build scope for open conversations – As a leader or a proactive colleague, initiate conversations to identify the mental load borne by the fatigued caregiver in your team. Acknowledge and assure the value the person brings to the team and work at large, and make space for open discussions without the fear of being judged. Gently nudge and help the person in accessing therapy and counseling interventions that can lessen the caregiver’s burden.
  2. Share the load – Encourage the team member dealing with the condition to discuss the magnitude of the professional workload being dealt with. This can help estimate what amount of work that can be assigned to the person and what can be delegated to colleagues and peers who are willing to support. When you leverage the power of organized teamwork in its core and true sense, you raise the morale of the affected person and the team as a whole.

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  1. Ensure the member prioritizes a good self-care routine – Caregiving is a rewarding exercise, but one must care for one’s own self too. Healthy eating, exercise, work breaks, and an appropriate sleep routine are non-negotiables for anyone, and it is more so for caregivers. Incremental changes such as scheduling lunch breaks and nudging to stop work for the day when the time is appropriate can improve the general quality of life for anyone.
  2. Enable community support – Coming together to connect and share each other’s stories is a means of catharsis; make ways for the coming together of people undergoing caregiver stress where they can share, listen and learn from each other’s experiences. The sense of community makes it easier for them to handle stressful situations; people will feel less alone. Creating such safety nets will also help break the taboo and the fear of sharing.

We are in times where the concept of working round the clock or always being on call, is no longer regarded as a winning attribute. Caregivers deserve to step back and take a break from the incessant churn of life. Respite can be brought within their reach when managers and teams come forward to support the caregivers in strategic and thoughtful ways.

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