Being a caregiver is no doubt a very tough job. Whether you are caring for a family member, a partner or a friend, the emotions and feelings you will experience are bound to fluctuate over time.
Some of these feelings might come out straight away if you become a caregiver suddenly without notice, whereas some might not surface until you have been caregiving for a while.
Whatever your situation, it is really essential that you remember that YOU, too, are important in this journey. All of your emotions, good, bad and indifferent are not only allowed but valid and important.
Why am I having these feelings and how can I deal with them?
Feelings of anger, resentment, guilt, anxiety, depression, exhaustion, embarrassment, impatience and loneliness are all common amongst carers as they look after someone day in, day out. Some days will be better than others and its vital you understand that it is perfectly normal to experience these emotions daily.
Recognising the emotional strain that caregiving can cause is the first step to enabling you to deal with your everyday life.
Put your own health and wellbeing first
When giving care to others, it is vital that you, yourself, are well, healthy and feeling good. If you are running on a lack of sleep, a poor diet and zero time for exercise, then it’s likely that you will find your role as a caregiver much tougher.
Make sure that you fuel your body with a nutritious and balanced diet to give you the energy and nutrients that you need to function properly. There are many free outlets that provide information about eating healthy, with thousands of easy recipes available no matter how little time you have.
Try and make time for brief periods of exercise each day. The NHS recommends that you do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity a week
Also, try to ensure you have a relaxing bedtime routine perhaps including a bath, reading a book, practising yoga and guided meditation to give you the best chance of getting a peaceful sleep of between 7 – 8 hours.
Seek support from others
Although we all like to think that we can manage by ourselves and that things will just ‘be okay’. Sometimes, we all need some additional help.
Talking to other caregivers can give you the reassurance that you are not alone. Many of the feelings you will be experiencing will be felt by many others too. Carers UK is a great hub of health and support, which connects carers with online forums, helpline and practical support. It’s a good place to start if you are looking for some advice.
Talking to friends and family members can also help as they will know you best and may be able to offer hugs, cups of tea and social activities to help you to relax and wind down after particularly tough days.
Sometimes, it might be easier and more relaxing to talk to someone who is a professional and with whom you can meet up regularly to talk about your feelings, experiences and emotions. Finding a therapist or a counsellor who you connect well with could be a really helpful step to help you explore your feelings and thoughts. They may help you to develop new ways of coping and dealing with the issues that you face. Don’t ever feel embarrassed or ashamed to seek professional help – therapy is increasingly popular in today’s society for both caregivers and non-caregivers and offers an outlet to help build self-worth and self-confidence to lead a happier and more contented life.
If you would like to arrange a free initial consultation without obligation to discuss your role as a caregiver, then I would love to chat with you. Please call me, Patti, on 07787 831 275 or email firstname.lastname@example.org