Healthy ways to manage your emotions as a caregiver.

How to deal with intense emotions, such as fear and grief, when caring for the sick and elderly.

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Caregivers are highly underappreciated. Whether they’re providing for the sick or assisting their aging parents, their duties demand so much of them. They work tirelessly to ensure their patients or loved ones are as comfortable and relaxed as possible, which sometimes means sacrificing their own needs. If you’ve been in this position you’ll know that this selflessness can take its toll on your emotional well-being. Here are some strategies to help you cope with the complex emotions many caregivers experience everyday.

  • Fear/anxiety. It’s understandable that in the process of caring for someone, you might be afraid of making a serious mistake or being confronted with a problem you don’t know how to solve. An effective way to manage these fears is to plan as much as possible in advance. Talking to healthcare providers and asking them about possible contingencies will better equip you to make informed decisions and handle any crises that might come up.
  • Loneliness. Even though you’re spending a lot of time with the person/people you’re caring for, you might find yourself feeling very alone. The key to breaking out of this isolation is to maintain healthy relationships outside of your role as a caregiver. Play sports or pick up a hobby that enables you to interact with active and vibrant people who make you feel included and supported.
  • Grief. It’s heartbreaking to witness the last stages of life. You may feel a tremendous sense of loss as the situation deteriorates, whether it’s for the person who is suffering or for the friends and family they will eventually leave behind. Counselling and therapy are effective ways of confronting this feeling head-on. Recording your experience in a journal, song, or poem are also cathartic options.
  • Helplessness/frustration/guilt. Sometimes you may feel utterly helpless, particularly when you’re doing everything in your power to help someone and they simply aren’t getting better. This in turn can lead to frustration or guilt and cause you to act out. To avoid this negativity you must remind yourself that the person’s health is beyond your control. Recognizing your limitations will help you identify the things you can control and refocus your energy.

It helps to create a plan

As mentioned earlier, one way you can reduce your stress when caring for someone is to build a plan. This can include figuring out how to prepare a suitable room for them, or setting aside finances to pay for medical expenses. If you’d like to learn more about planning ahead, sign into your LifeSpeak account or click ‘Book a Demo’ to request access.

Also published on Medium.

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