It’s no secret that being a caregiver is an emotionally taxing job. Caregivers frequently feel overwhelmed, alone and frustrated with their current situation.
Here are the 7 emotions along with tips to keep them at bay.
The most important thing for caregivers to keep in mind in order to avoid feeling overwhelmed with guilt is that there is no “right” way. Caregivers frequently beat themselves up over how they handled a situation, overanalyzing whether or not they acted correctly. Understand you are only human and try and follow your instinct about the best way to assist your loved one. If you are still feeling overwhelmed, contact a home care agency to hire a professional caregiver part-time. Shadow the caregiver for a day and see how they handle some of the more difficult situations and then incorporate their solutions into your daily routine.
Resentment is one of the most common emotions experienced by caregivers. As the primary focus of their lives becomes caring for another person, caregivers often start feeling resentful toward that person. If these feelings of resentment remain unchecked, they can quickly evolve into more serious feelings of depression and anger. The simple act of venting to a friend or writing in a journal can help relieve some of the tension caregivers feel.
Almost everyone gets angry at one point or another. As anger builds up it can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, digestive tract disorders and headaches. If it’s not dealt with in a healthy manner it can also lead to depression or anxiety. Try deep breathing exercises as a way to control your temper. Laughter is also an effective way to lighten the mood, so catch a funny flick with a friend or go see a comedy show.
Let’s face it, it’s nearly impossible not to worry about something. The endless obstacles that come with being the primary caregiver for a loved one make worrying inevitable. Worrying in excess can disrupt sleep, create headaches and lead to excessive eating. The best way to regulate this emotion is by breaking the cycle. Staying active and busy will help distract you from worrying too much about the little things. Another option to ease the anxiety that come with caring for another is to attend a caregiver support group or meet with a therapist on a monthly basis.
Taking care of a loved one is time consuming. As your loved one requires more care, caregivers can become increasingly isolated from their former social life. A recent study revealed that individuals with active social lives have different brain structures than those who are isolated. Loneliness has been shown to curb willpower and lead to smoking and alcohol abuse. Simply initiating a get together with friends is an effective way to decrease loneliness. Support groups also help with feelings of loneliness and isolation, helping one realize that they are not alone.
While grief is typically an emotion triggered by tragedy, anticipatory grief is equally prevalent. Anticipatory grief is generally evoked when there are clear degenerative signs as seen with dementia. Suppressing these feelings can lead to sadness and guilt. Allowing yourself to feel sadness and discuss it with your loved one is one of the best ways to cope with grief.
While it’s true that no one knows your parent or other loved one like you do, it’s important to keep in mind that there are other, and potentially better, ways of doing things. It’s easy to become close-minded when you’re doing so much on your own. Suggestions can seem more like threats, especially in situations of uncertainty and stress. Instead of immediately disregarding advice, analyze it and ask yourself whether it actually is the better option. More often than not you’ll find that the advice of others can be very helpful.
As the primary caregiver, knowing which emotions are normal to feel is half of the battle. The other half is coping with these emotions so that you can protect your mental health in order to provide the best care possible for your loved one.