Being a caregiver is a tough task. It is not uncommon to feel stressed and overwhelmed. With all of the emotional and physical fatigue, it can be challenging to stay positive. While caring for someone, your personal needs are not always addressed. It is important that you take proactive measures, supporting your own mental state.
If you continually provide care, but you are struggling to stay positive; you run the risk of burning out. Once burnt out, you will not be able to provide the care that your loved one needs. You need to properly care for yourself, before you can care for anyone else.
Staying Positive While Caregiving
Caregiving is not only challenging, it can be unpredictable. It creates high levels of stress and is both physically and mentally demanding. If you harbour feelings of shame, guilt, or worry, you will not accomplish anything. You will only hinder the level of care you provide, while inflicting pain on yourself. In order to stay more positive, focus on some of these areas.
1. Focus on the Present
In order to maintain a positive attitude, you need to accept the current situation. If you focus on the way things used to be, you will be unrealistic in terms of what is needed. When you focus on the present, you are able to make the best of it. Focus on the positives, as it will help you maintain your own health.
Do both you and your loved one enjoy chess? This could be a positive area to focus on. Sure, you may need to care for your loved one, but it’s important that you do not forget to have fun. If you are constantly thinking about future appointments and instances from the past, you will miss out on the present. Schedule in one game of chess each week, it will be something you can both look forward to.
2. Become More Knowledgable
A lot of the stress that is linked to caregiving, can be greatly reduced by increasing your level of knowledge. This is a proactive solution, allowing you to have a more positive attitude, while providing the best possible care. Learn everything there is to know about your loved one’s condition.
There are more resources than ever before, so read plenty and reach out for advice and support. When you understand your loved one’s disease, you will be able to cope easier when instances occur. Yes, it will take more of your time initially, but once you educate yourself, you have the knowledge to make caregiving easier.
When you understand the symptoms and stages of Alzheimer’s for instance, you will experience less worry and stress when symptoms surface. Instead of worrying and rushing them to the doctor’s, you will understand that their symptoms are a normal part of this degenerative disease. It is still emotionally taxing to watch your loved one change, but when you have the proper tools, you can maintain a more positive attitude.
3. Make Time For Yourself
You need to schedule in time for yourself each week. Even if it is only an hour a week; do something you love. Don’t forget to celebrate life, as caregiving can be a consuming role. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of your situation, think of all the positives. What do you have in your life that brings you joy? What are you thankful for?
When you focus on what makes your happy, you can use that as a tool to lift your spirits. Spending time with friends and family is essential. Make sure you schedule social time into your schedule. Even if you call a friend once a week on the phone, it’s important to stay connected.
Focus on hobbies you enjoy. Are you fond of painting or cooking? These are hobbies that you can do in the comfort of home, while caring for your loved one. You may even share the same interests as the individual you’re caring for. This allows you to incorporate your interests, while caring for your loved one.
4. Accept Help and Seek Support
If you are feeling overwhelmed, make a list of ways that others can assist you. For instance, your sister may be willing to wake your mom for a walk twice a week, while your brother does all the grocery shopping. This added support can make all the difference. It can free up time so that you can spend time with your immediate family or get caught up on your work. When you have some time for yourself, you will feel more positive about your current situation.
You should also actively seek support, as this can positively impact your mental state. There are many support groups (within your community and online). These groups provide a safe environment, where you can share your thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, you just need someone to listen. When you’re around like-minded individuals you will not feel as isolated.
You can also look into classes and workshops that are offered. The Red Cross for instance, often offer classes regarding caregiving. The Alzheimer’s Association is another excellent resource. You can also check in with your local hospital, as they will know which organizations could benefit you and your situation.
Caregiving is a tough role to fill, but there are ways to make your situation more manageable. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially if you’re struggling. Continually set personal goals for yourself, as you focus on your health. When you maintain a more positive attitude, caregiving is less demanding and emotionally draining.
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