Feeling Anxious as a Caregiver? It’s Completely Normal

June 3rd 2023 in Dementia

According to available research, as many as 4 out of 10 family caregivers find their situation extremely stressful, and the numbers are similar for non-family, unpaid caregivers who are mostly friends and neighbors. 

As a caregiver, you may find yourself worrying unceasingly about the well-being of your loved one, and also stressed about your finances, career, and personal relationships, among a dozen other things. Well, here’s your reminder that it’s completely natural to feel like that and it’s not a reflection of how good you are at being a caregiver. It’s a tough situation, you are doing the best you can, and no one can (nor should anyone) pass any judgment on you. Moreover, there are things you can do to tackle your anxiety, and all they require from you is that you don’t invalidate your emotions and you don’t stop caring for yourself. Let’s go over four of the most important ones. 

1. Manage your expectations

You need to be realistic when setting expectations. Take only as much on your plate as you think you can handle effectively, without falling prey to anxiety. In case there is no other option, try your best to make sure that such situations do not occur too often. Remember that if you make commitments just to please people, you will end up disappointing them when you fail to keep your word. 

In a similar vein, wishful thinking will only set you up for disappointment. That doesn’t mean that you always have to be cynical about everything, but it helps to maintain a balance between hoping for the best and being prepared for the worst. 

2. Actively aim for relaxation

Anxiety can be managed with relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga. These practices can help calm your mind and body, reduce stress, and promote a sense of well-being. Find a relaxation technique that works for you and make it a part of your daily routine.

If your anxiety is interfering with your ability to provide care or impacting the quality of your life, it may be time to seek professional help. Talk with your healthcare provider about your symptoms, and they can refer you to a mental health professional who can provide support and guidance.

3. Nurture a support structure

Whether you are caring for a family member, a friend, or a client, it always helps to have some people in your life with whom you can have fun every once in a while, and who are not averse to listening about your day. When you have this kind of support, you feel as though your burden is shared, even if they cannot help you directly in your caregiving duties. 

It can also help to seek out others who understand the challenges of caregiving because they will be able to relate with you and may even give you some useful advice to cope better. 

4. Use knowledge to your advantage

A lot of times we get anxious because we feel like we are ill-equipped to deal with a situation. To counter that you can start by learning as much as you can about your loved one's condition. Take their opinion about the condition seriously, research the illness or disability on your own, and talk with healthcare providers about what to expect. This can help you anticipate challenges and prepare better for the future, which will ultimately give you the feeling of having a degree of control over your life, thereby relieving anxiety. 

As a caregiver, it's easy to get lost in the daily routine of taking care of your loved one's needs and forget about your own. However, it's important to remember that you are also a human being with emotions, desires, and limitations. By acknowledging and addressing your anxieties and stressors, you'll not only improve your well-being but also enhance the quality of care you provide.