Managing Frustration as a Family Caregiver
Many aspects of family caregiving are difficult to handle and balance. This difficult role naturally leads to feelings of frustration and anger. Many caregivers feel a sense of guilt for becoming frustrated if they are caring for a loved one with a degenerative neurological disease. These feelings of guilt come from the fact that their loved one is the one that needs help and getting aggravated feels like a form of selfishness. In this blog, we want to go over how to handle feelings of frustration, not because they are not normal, but because feeling frustrated can often be an obstacle to caregiving effectively.
The first thing to realize is that it is not selfish to be frustrated at times. Caregiving is extremely difficult and you may encounter challenges that you would have never expected. You are entitled to the feelings you have. However, it is important to not let your feelings overwhelm you or cloud your evaluation of the situation that is causing them. Consider these tips on how to manage feelings of frustration and how to help avoid it in the future:
Pause, Accept, and Reflect: When you are feeling frustrated, you may often develop feelings of anger, anxiety, impatience, or you feel physical symptoms, like headaches, cramps, or a host of other symptoms. Whenever you feel frustrated, take a moment to step back and acknowledge the feelings that you are experiencing. Accept these feelings as a normal and a part of your caregiving role. Then take a moment to evaluate the situation and identify what you can do to make the situation better. Even if there is nothing you can do, taking a moment to acknowledge this reality is always helpful and productive. During this process it is helpful to take deep breaths to help calm year nerves. Try breathing in for four seconds and breathing out for four seconds, counting the seconds for inhalations and exhalations.
Forgive Yourself: Many times, frustration and anger while caregiving can produce feelings of guilt. This guilt can often result from frustration and anger being directed at your loved one. We encourage you to be easy on yourself. Understand that all people have limits and it is okay if you sometimes reach that breaking point. In other words, do not overwhelm yourself with emotions to the point that it becomes unproductive. Guilt can often be a necessarily emotion to experience to help you reflect on a past situation, but it can sometimes develop into an obsession that does not lead you anywhere.
Ask for Help: One of the key ways to help avoid frustration is to seek help. This can mean a variety of things. One the one hand, it can mean finding help for your caregiving duties, like enlisting the help of family members and friends or hiring a professional caregiver. This form of help can really alleviate a lot of the difficult responsibilities you have, giving you time to focus on yourself for a little while. On the other hand, seeking for help could also mean talking to a counselor or therapist about what you are going through. Professional therapists can often help you find strategies and solutions to respond to stressful situations.
Feeling frustration is normal as a family caregiver. How you respond to these feelings will ultimately characterize how you respond to difficult situations in the future. We hope that these tips offer healthy and productive ways to manage difficult emotions you may go through. If you have any more questions, feel free to call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website.