I know we say it a lot, but this is one of those things that you can’t hear enough: In order to provide optimal care to someone else, you must take care of yourself! In addition to maintaining your physical health, it is also necessary to pay attention to your emotions and to ask for help before stress becomes problematic. Listed below are a few tips on how to manage some typical, normal emotions that caregivers experience:
Anger. Anger at the person you care for because of growing demands. Anger at friends and family members for not being as understanding or as helpful as you’d like. Anger at a higher power for the situation. So many reasons to feel angry. What do you do with it? Find a safe way to express it – e.g., exercise, vent to a friend, paint, etc. Allowing anger to build could impair your judgment and cause you to act in ways that could be hurtful to yourself and others. Talking to a trusted person may provide a chance to figure out why you are angry and how to improve the situation.
Fear. We fear the unknown – possibly because our minds often race to the worst-case scenario. Learning as much as you can about your loved one’s illness and ways to care for them, as well as developing plans for an emergency (complete with contact numbers), can alleviate some of those fears. Also, talking with other people who have been in your position can be a tremendous comfort.
Guilt. A little word for such an invasive emotion. Maybe you feel guilty for being well when your loved one is not. Maybe you think that there was something you could have done to prevent it or catch it earlier. Maybe guilt exists over feeling angry or tired or alone. Whatever the reason, guilt makes you ruminate over what you did to cause the problem – if you even contributed to it at all. This, in turn, may cause you to overlook other contributing factors to the problem, which impedes finding a solution! Try to forgive yourself and don’t allow guilt to take over precious energy and positive thoughts.
If you find that managing these emotions or feelings of sadness, sorrow, or loss are troublesome, please do not hesitate to contact your doctor for a referral to a therapist near you.
All material provided on this website is for informational purposes only. Direct consultation with a qualified provider should be sought for any specific questions or problems. Use of this website in no way constitutes professional service or advice.