Coping with Your Own Emotions
Being a caregiver can be a difficult job. Feelings of anger, guilt, frustration, and isolation are common emotions among caregivers. These feelings are completely normal and do not mean you care for your loved one any less than before they were ill. But it is important to recognize, express, and accept your feelings. Below are some suggestions on how you can cope with the psychological aspects of caregiving:
- Talk to a Mental Health Professional
Many people find it extremely beneficial to talk with a mental health professional to help them cope with the stress and emotions of caring for someone with HE. Professionals who provide counseling include social workers, psychologists, therapists and mental health counselors; they can help you gain perspective on your situation and strengthen your coping skills. Ask your healthcare or insurance provider for a referral to a counseling professional.
- Join a Peer Support Group
Talking with people who are experiencing the same issues as you are can be helpful, for many reasons:
- Peers who experience first-hand the challenges associated with caregiving can provide a supportive and non-judgmental environment for you to express your feelings.
- Being part of a support group can lead to strong bonds of mutual respect and friendship, and decrease feelings of isolation.
- You can learn useful information that will save you time and effort and improve your caregiving skills.
If it’s difficult for you to attend a support group in person, you can connect with other caregivers online on Internet-based discussion groups such as Inspire.
- Practice Stress Reduction Techniques
Learning to relax and quiet your mind – or take a “mental vacation” – will help you avoid the negative affects of stress. Some ways to do this include:
- Practicing yoga, meditation, prayer, or visualization.
- Spending time with people who have a positive outlook on life and limiting your exposure to people and places that induce negativity.
- Practicing positive thinking by replacing negative thoughts with hopeful ones. Positive thinkers usually look at things in the long run which help them keep things in perspective and not sweat the small stuff.