Anxiety, which can arise from various situations, occasionally warranting professional assistance, is a prevalent stressor. Reports indicate its presence in approximately 28.6% of family caregivers, with a higher impact on women. Nevertheless, effective methods to alleviate anxiety independently do exist. This article delves into practical strategies aimed at achieving this goal.
Identifying Harmful Thoughts: Unraveling the Anxiety Knot
Surprisingly, focusing on your anxious thoughts can be the first step towards gaining control over them. Intrusive thoughts tend to be unusual, bothersome, and hard to control.
For instance, let us consider worrying about a new caregiver for your elderly father. Thoughts like “He will dislike this new PAB” or “The new PAB will be underqualified, and I will be back to square one” might plague your mind.
If you did your best to find a suitable, certified PAB, it may be that these negative thoughts are a product of anxiety, and not a reflection of reality. It is important not to judge yourself, as nervousness when a loved one needs extra care is normal. Acknowledging these thoughts can help put them in perspective and devise strategies to manage them.
Practicing Mindfulness: Cultivating the Present Moment
Upon identifying harmful thoughts, practicing mindfulness becomes crucial. Mindfulness, the art of being fully present, proves powerful in managing caregiver anxiety. Practicing meditation needn’t be complex; it can be incorporated into various scenarios. Consider these steps:
- Pause and identify your current task (while eating, walking, cleaning etc.)
- Strive to clear your mind of distractions.
- Focus on how your body interacts with the task—notice textures, sensations, smells, sounds.
- Sustain this focus for a specific period, starting with around 1 minute and extending with practice.
Setting Realistic Goals: Easing the Weight of Expectations
Many of us overextend ourselves, striving for perfection, especially when caring for someone. However, expecting flawlessness and immense output is unrealistic. Instead, break major goals into manageable parts.
For instance, rather than thinking, “I can handle 20 hours of care each week without stress,” tell yourself, “I will try this new schedule for a week or two, adjusting based on my feelings. The potential stress from a new challenge does not mean I am a bad caregiver.”
Caregiving is not easy; this is especially true if you have another job. Remember that there are many options out there that can serve as a Plan B; If you are working with a company like Equinoxe LifeCare many care coordinators are more than willing to introduce you to different caregivers so you can find he best match. Do not expect to do everything by yourself; have a backup plan.
Journaling: Unleashing Your Emotions
Lastly, journaling is a great way to release pent-up emotions. Caregiver anxiety often stems from overwhelming feelings needing expression. Journaling not only provides a safe space but also enhances self-awareness by tracking thought patterns. There is no need for perfection; a few lines can suffice. Moreover, artistic outlets like painting, singing, or dancing can provide catharsis, tailored to your preferences.
In conclusion, while professional help is paramount for anxiety, there are effective self-help methods. This holistic approach nurtures self-compassion and empowers caregivers, fostering resilience and well-being. Striking a balance between caregiving and personal care becomes feasible, ensuring a healthier equilibrium.