Tuesday Tips for Caregivers: Rejecting Perfection: A Caregiver’s Guide to Letting Go

Rejecting Perfection: A Caregiver’s Guide to Letting Go

Caregiving is a fulltime job that comes with many responsibilities. Since caregivers usually care for close relatives and loved ones, the tendency to do everything as perfectly as possible to ensure the comfort of their loved one can result. But striving for “perfection”—or the desire to do everything you can as correctly as possible—can often cause more stress and problems. There is nothing wrong with wanting to do everything right for your loved one. However, sometimes setting the bar too high for yourself can create more stress, especially when things do not go exactly as planned.

Being a caregiver requires that you expect challenges. There will be moments when unexpected situations occur that are out of your control. But these situations are not your fault, and it makes no sense to blame yourself for them. Unfortunately, many people who strive for perfection do blame themselves. This attitude is not productive and it will lead to eventual “caregiver burnout.” This term means exhausting yourself to the point where you are no longer helpful to anybody, in turn, doing the opposite of what you originally wanted. Below, we will share some tips that can help you remind yourself to take a step back, relax, and remove some of the burden from your shoulders.

(1) Care for yourself: One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a family caregiver is forgetting that you need care, as well. Too often people let their physical, emotional, and mental health go by the wayside in the pursuit to be an effective family caregiver. The key to caring for others is to care for yourself. This includes getting enough sleep, doing physical activity, and pursuing something you enjoy. This is not a selfish life philosophy, but a fact of human wellbeing. For example, if you are well-rested, physically healthy, and emotionally stable, then you have the energy and resources to help out others. But if you are always tired, irritable, and feeling down, it is harder to help others in that state of being. Do not forget about yourself.

(2) Ask for help: Do not be afraid to ask for help from other family members, friends, or local organizations. Caregiving is a stressful role and it can often be too overwhelming to do it all on your own. If you are juggling too many responsibilities, then there may come a time when you can’t handle it anymore. This can lead to the opposite outcome you originally wanted: making sure your loved one is safe and well cared for. Do not hesitate to ask for a helping hand.

(3) Know your limits: Caregiving doesn’t need to be a role that will wipe you out every day. If you are like most people, you have other responsibilities to take care of, too, like going to work, parenting, or being a spouse. It is okay if you cannot get to everything on your “to-do” list. Be patient with yourself and remind yourself that you are doing your best.

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