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Learning to Deal with the Emotions of Caregiving

Understanding the Emotional Side of Caring for Someone

Working as a full-time or part-time caregiver can be a challenging job for many reasons, and the emotional side of caregiving can be especially difficult to cope with.

Some emotions are positive, like feelings of love and fulfillment that come from caring for a loved one. But, on tough days, you might feel frustration or even anger about the situation.

Don't let yourself feel guilty or reach the point of caregiver burnout . Instead, recognize that it's all right to feel emotional about caregiving and that there are healthy, productive ways to deal with those emotions.

Understand the warning signs of emotional fatigue

You are only human, and that means you'll experience a variety of emotions throughout your role as a caregiver, especially if your caregiving situation lasts long-term. There are a few warning signs that might pop up if what you're feeling starts to shift toward caregiver burnout:

  • Increased irritability
  • Fatigue or feeling overwhelmed
  • Anxiety
  • Resentment toward your loved one
  • Disinterest in activities you enjoyed before becoming a caregiver

Once you're aware that these warning signs point to a larger problem, you can begin to process your feelings and create a coping plan.

How to deal with the emotions of caregiving

Accepting that it's okay to feel what you're feeling is only half the battle when it comes to dealing with your emotions on caregiving.

You'll also have to realize that you need to take care of yourself, too, and that shouldn't make you feel guilty . Self-care is essential in a caregiving relationship because you're responsible for the well-being of two people. Giving all of your time and energy to your loved one without building in time for your own care will lead to emotional (and potentially even physical) distress.

This imbalance leads to emotional fatigue , which can cause medical problems like high blood pressure, loss of sleep and forgetfulness.

Once you recognize the warning signs, take a deep breath and recognize that you need to tune into your emotions. Think about how you feel, and why, then make an action plan. For example, you may need to take a quick break from caregiving or find someone to help share the joy and burden of caring for a loved one.

Every change doesn't have to be massive, either. Taking five minutes to drink a calming cup of tea or do some quick meditation can make a world of difference in how you feel throughout the day.

Support for caregivers experiencing burnout

Many caregivers are experiencing similar emotions. Even when you feel frustrated and alone, know that support is available.

There are support groups and therapists who specialize in helping you work through the complicated emotions that come with caregiving. You can also open up to friends and family who you can trust to listen without judgment.

The caring therapists at Foundations Counseling can help you and your family overcome life's greatest challenges. Contact us today!