Many caregivers experience guilt. While this emotion is understandable, it isn’t productive. If the guilt continues, family caregivers need to find a positive way to manage their emotions. Here are five tips for avoiding caregiving-related guilt.
1. Set Reasonable Expectations
Sometimes caregivers experience guilt because their expectations are too high. If they forget to pick up a prescription or they burn dinner, it could lead them down a path of self-recrimination. Caregivers can’t be perfect, and if they feel immense guilt every time they make a small mistake, the feeling builds up. Instead of viewing each mistake as a reason you aren’t good enough, view mistakes as a learning opportunity. They’re a stepping stone, not a stumbling block.
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2. Recognize Signs of Burnout
Many caregivers work tirelessly, and they need to recognize when they’re taking on too much stress. If you feel perpetually tired, depressed, or angry, your current lifestyle isn’t sustainable. When burnout happens, don’t feel guilty. Instead, feel proud of what you’ve accomplished, and acknowledge that you need some extra help.
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3. Take Care of Yourself
Many caregivers view time away from their loved one as a sign they aren’t fulfilling their caregiving duties. This mindset is dangerous, as you can’t provide excellent care if you aren’t tending to your own emotional, mental, and physical needs. Instead of feeling guilty whenever you take time for yourself, remind yourself that time away provides the energy and peace of mind you need to provide effective care.
4. Check Negative Thoughts
Caregivers feel guilty for many reasons. When feelings of guilt start to swirl in the mind, stop and ask yourself what you would say to a friend in your situation. Oftentimes, people are more generous to their friends than they are to themselves. Instead of focusing on your guilt, whether it’s motivated by feelings of inadequacy or feelings of anger, put a stop to your inner monologue. Give yourself the pep talk you’d give your best friend. By realizing how harsh your negative thoughts are from an outside perspective, you can achieve a more positive self-image.
5. Find an Appropriate Emotional Outlet
When caregivers get frustrated, angry, or impatient with their senior loved one, it often leads to feelings of guilt. Instead of dwelling on guilt, find a healthy way to manage your anger or frustration. Some people find solace in support groups, while others enjoy working out their aggression in an exercise class. Many caregivers simply like to talk about their emotions, whether it’s with a supportive friend or a therapist. Find an emotional outlet that works for you and mitigates the negative feelings that cause guilt in the first place.
Caregiving can be a stressful job. However, family members can relieve stress and prevent caregiving-related guilt by hiring professional in-home caregivers. If your senior loved one needs hourly or live-in care, Fort Worth Home Care Assistance can help. Our caregivers can assist with exercise and mobility, prepare nutritious meals, provide timely medication reminders, and help with a wide array of other important daily tasks. Call us at 817-349-7599 to learn about our premier home care plans.