Coping Strategies – 2
Look After Your Health
In addition to getting enough sleep, staying active and eating right, it is important to monitor your personal health and visit a physician when necessary. As noted before, caregivers are at high risk for health issues.Get regular check-ups to detect potential health problems early.
Build a Network of Support
It is easy to become over-invested in being the primary caregiver. Don’t exclude others out of competition,jealousy or guilt. Your personal support network is an important source of comfort, information and resources for you and your loved one. So share the burden and the rewards of caregiving,at least occasionally.
Your loved one needs to feel connected to others, too. Allowing other family members and friends in your network to provide support and engage with your loved one is a blessing all around.
Own Your Emotions
Caregivers can get caught up in a downward spiral of negative emotions.
- They may feel resentful of the demands placed on them, and then feel guilty for feeling resentful about caring for a loved one, which leads to more guilt, and the spiral continues downward.
- Or they may deny any negative feelings as “unacceptable.” The more people try to bury emotions, the greater their stress.
It’s important to acknowledge and accept all your emotions, even if they are negative.
When you’re experiencing negative feelings, think about why you are feeling as you do at that point in time.
- Is it a sign that you need a break or some “me-time”?
- Is your caregiving being taken for granted or unappreciated?
- Is your loved one asking you to do things heor she could do without your help?
- Do you feel emotionally or physically abused,whether the action was intentional or not?
Express your feelings. Set limits and physical or emotional boundaries, if that is an issue.Share how you feel and why. Use “I feel” rather than “You did” statements.
Use a journal to record and reflect upon your feelings. Writing in a journal can create a sense of objective distance, as well as increased self-awareness. It can also be a cathartic way to clear your mind and regain control of your emotions.
Talking to someone who is not part of the immediate situation can be another way of working through your emotions without damaging important relationships. Your sounding board can be a friend, a counselor (e.g., minister or priest, rabbi. imam) or a paid professional.
Ask your loved one and others to provide what you need or want.Sometimes loved ones with a chronic disability find it easy to let others do things for them that they are capable of doing for themselves with some effort. When they recognize that they are creating a burden on you by doing so, they may take responsibility for being more independent.
Talking about the chronic disability and its impact with the loved one does not make the condition worse or cause needless upset. However, a “code of silence” creates emotional distance between loved ones, even when they are doing so to protect each other.
Solve problems and make decisions by discussing them together. Make plans that work for both of you by communicating desires, priorities and needs. Do not assume that once a decision is made, it is made forever. Things change and it is important to periodically reassess goals and rethink priorities.