Caring for a loved one can be difficult and frustrating at times. Here are some ways to productively deal with this difficult emotion.
Posted in , Apr 27, 2020
Asked how they feel, many family caregivers mention their stress and sadness—but not the resentment, impatience and anger that can build up. Caregivers tend to do what Caroline Conklin did: hide the feelings they think are negative. The fact is, most caregivers experience a wide range of emotions, all of which are valid and natural.
Burying emotions takes a toll on your mental and physical well-being. Research by Home Instead Senior Care shows that caregivers who hide their feelings are more likely to experience fatigue, high blood pressure, difficulty sleeping and depression. Here are some tips for coping with caregiver anger:
Forgive yourself. Who hasn’t lost their temper and snapped at their loved one at some point during the caregiving journey? Don’t beat yourself up. Give yourself credit for all the times you showed great patience and for the many hours of loving care you provide.
Get something to eat. If you’ve been around kids, you know meltdowns tend to happen when a child is hungry. Low blood sugar levels can impair your ability to cope with caregiving stress. To help avoid meltdowns on your part—or your loved one’s—when you’re caring for a senior family member, have a healthy snack together.
Talk it out. Vent to someone outside your family: a pastor, therapist or nonjudgmental friend. Join a local or online caregiver support group.
Let it go. Physically releasing your anger can be therapeutic. Excuse yourself and go scream into a pillow. Or punch the pillow. A strategy for the long term: Get more exercise. Physical activity is a well-known stress reducer and mood booster.
Seek solace in your spirituality. Take your troubles to God. Prayer and meditation are great coping mechanisms. Read the Bible or something else you find restorative and inspiring.
Take time off. You can’t draw water from an empty well. Anger and impatience often stem from exhaustion. To replenish your energy, do something you enjoy every day. Even 15 minutes here and there will make a difference. Better yet, set up regular respite care. Ask family, friends or volunteers from your faith community to fill in for you a few hours every week. If you’re considering professional respite care, contact Home Instead Senior Care at (866) 996-1085 or homeinstead.com/guideposts for a free consultation.
For more tips on managing the emotions of caregiving, visit caregiverstress.com.