Common Caregiver Emotions (And How to Cope With Them)
Caregiving can be an all-consuming job that can bring a wave of different emotions. With emotions running high, it’s all too easy to let these emotions get the best of us. Instead of reacting to these powerful feelings in unhealthy or unproductive ways, we’ll help caregivers to process them, so that they can create a healthy internal place of emotional stability and peace.
Here are some of the most common feelings caregivers face, and how to work through them:
Feeling anxious is a common feeling in life, especially among caregivers. Whether or not they have been diagnosed with anxiety disorder, constantly feeling anxious can start to negatively affect their health. Though there is no “cure all” for anxiety, there are different methods that can help alleviate those symptoms.
Schedule an appointment with a medical professional to discuss treatment options, or look into natural methods like yoga, meditation, journaling, relaxing cups of tea, or other healthy, personally calming practices to see if they bring peace.
Everyone loses patience from time to time, but for caregivers who tend to be under a lot of stress, it’s not hard to understand why. Caregivers who are constantly finding themselves on edge, should consider the possibility that they may be lacking sleep. As mentioned in past articles, adequate sleep is not a luxury, but rather a necessity that plays a crucial part in overall health and wellbeing with the ability to affect job performance, relationships with others, and quality of life.
For those experiencing irritability, try increasing the amount of sleep for a week and observe any changes in energy levels and emotions.
Feeling a sense of loss whether it’s prompted by a death or with the declining health of a loved one can be painful. There are many possible reasons for caregivers to grieve, and there is no correct or incorrect reason for doing so, despite what society often deems acceptable. Though normal, grief doesn’t have to be something caregivers endure silently.
Joining a support group can help caregivers feel supported and help validate their pain, which can be crucial to the healing process. It can be freeing to share grief with a listening ear, but if caregivers aren’t yet ready to open up to anymore, journaling can be a great healing activity that can be done in solitude.
Even if not personally administering and overseeing care, caregivers ultimately make very crucial decisions about a loved one’s health. This level of high-stakes responsibility can sometimes cause caregivers to feel a lot of pressure that leads to guilt, especially if a loved one’s health is declining. Although caregiver guilt is fairly common, there’s no easy way to shake off that lingering sense of “I could’ve done more…” However, there are some simple things they can keep in mind to help ease that guilt.
Caregiving is difficult and caregivers should remind themselves that they’re doing their best. Allow room for mistakes and move forward.
Becoming a caregiver is a huge financial, emotional, and time-consuming undertaking, and many of them may feel wronged by family members, coworkers or friends who they feel did not offer them support. Although these feelings may be justified, holding onto resentment hurts the caregiver in the end, so it’s necessary to discover methods that help release this bitterness.
Try finding productive ways to let go of these negative feelings such as journaling, exercise or therapy.
It’s important to remember that feeling these different emotions (and others that weren’t listed) isn’t “wrong," and that it’s natural to experience very complex feelings throughout the caregiving journey. Everyone is entitled to their feelings, but it’s unhealthy to cope with them negatively.
Hopefully some of the strategies listed above can help caregivers process emotions in a healthy way.