Caring for Yourself While Caring for A Loved One with Gambling Addiction

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Make Self-Care a Priority!

Caring for a loved one with a gambling addiction and other concurrent addictions can be very demanding on you.  You may notice physical, mental, emotional or other signs that you are experiencing stress or burnout. It is important to take care of yourself and improve the quality of your own life despite how the addiction may be affecting others in your midst.   A person is unable to offer care and compassion to another if they don’t take care of themselves first.  A healthy caregiver is a good caregiver.  

Do you know the signs of stress and burnout when caring for someone with a gambling addiction?  

The signs of stress and burnout are much the same as they would be for any addiction or situation.  Recognizing the signs of stress can help you protect yourself (and others) from harm.  When stress goes unnoticed and untreated, it can lead to burnout.  Here are a few common signs of stress and burnout to help you remain aware of your own health while caring for someone with a gambling addiction:

Common Signs of Stress: Common Signs of Burnout:
Trouble getting to sleep or sleeping Ignoring your own personal needs: physical, emotional, spiritual, etc.
Restlessness, irritability Lack of energy or motivation
Feeling tired or drained often Getting sick often, easily and for longer periods of time
Anxiety Avoiding social situations or connections
Depression No longer enjoying activities previously enjoyed
Having trouble thinking or staying focused Increased impatience
Increased use of distractions Irritability
Forgetfulness Yelling or anger
Reduced time attending to responsibilities or leisure activities Increased overall fatigue
Worsening (or new) health problems Thoughts of hurting yourself or the person you care for

What should I do if I think I am experiencing stress and burnout due to caring for a loved one with addiction?

Here are some ideas for self-care you can try in the areas of physical, emotional/mental, and spiritual health care:

  • Physical Health Care
    • Physical movement or exercise
    • Eating balanced and nutritious meals
    • Staying hydrated by drinking water
    • Getting adequate rest and sleep each night
  • Emotional and Mental Health Care
    • Taking breaks during the day (as needed or when you can)
    • Staying connected regularly with friends, family, faith community, other groups builds relationships and relationships provide resilience.  Support systems are protective factors for mental health.
    • Finding joy – laughing, singing, dancing, reading, writing, cooking, art – focus on your favorite fun hobbies or explore new ones!
    • Practice gratitude (daily) – list all the things you are grateful for as a reminder of the gifts that are present in your life
    • Practice self-love – list all the things you appreciate about yourself, especially your strengths!  Being aware of your strengths allows you to draw upon them in times of need.
  • Spiritual Health Care
    • Help others/Volunteer – find a cause that matters to you and give back when you can.  This grows a supportive community and connects us to like-minded people on a deeper level – helping others while helping yourself.
    • Practice mindfulness – meditation is a simple form of mindfulness that you can practice anywhere, anytime.  Practice slowing your body down while noticing how you feel and the details of your surroundings (sights/sounds).  
    • Spend time in nature – no matter where you live or what you like to do, spending time outdoors can boost your spiritual wellbeing.  Even just a few minutes of walking or fresh air can be therapeutic and help us feel better.

Remember that you are not alone – there are many resources you can access for yourself or others.  It is especially important to watch out for the signs of depression and seek help.