Being a caregiver often means that you’re dealing with increasing amounts of stress. There’s a lot that falls to you to handle and that can get overwhelming quickly. If you’re not already putting a plan in place to help you to manage the stress that you can’t avoid, you’re going to have a tougher time. Start with what you can do and that should give you some mental space.
Focus on What You Can Do Something About
There are so many things that you can control as a caregiver, but there are infinitely more that you can’t do a single thing to change. Your mindset is something that you can adjust, so start with that. If you’re focusing more on the things you can’t do anything about, that’s going to make your stress even larger and more difficult to manage.
Validate Your Own Feelings
The reality is that no one else is going to validate your feelings for you. If you’re waiting for other people to give you permission to own your own feelings, you’re likely going to be waiting a while. Own your feelings, process them, and then let them go. It’s when you try to ignore them or pretend that you’re really feeling something else that you’re going to get yourself into more trouble.
Forgive What and Where You Can
Start with yourself and offer yourself forgiveness for any of the mistakes, real or imagined, that you’ve made as a caregiver and as a person. Part of life is knowing that you’re doing the best that you can and that as you learn and grow, you try to do better. All of that is important and valid. Once you’ve forgiven yourself, offer forgiveness to other areas of your life.
Practice Gratitude Daily
Stress often occurs when you are “swimming upstream.” Focusing on gratitude and being grateful for the things that are, not the things that you wish would happen, gives you a chance to go with the flow a little bit more. Try to find the positive aspects of every situation of your life. It gets easier the more that you practice this.
This is really a process. You’ll have to tweak the steps and figure out what works best for you and what fits your needs as a caregiver. From there, you’ll have a plan you can lean on going forward and you may start to see other solutions that can help you to be a better caregiver.