What are your first thoughts when you wake up in the morning? Are you looking forward to what your day will bring, or would you rather crawl back beneath the covers and stay there? If you are experiencing more dread than delight as you think through your caregiving responsibilities for the day, you’re not alone. In fact, caregiver dread is one of the most common challenges of being a caregiver.
Distinctly different from anxiety, depression, or even burnout, caregiver dread is an exhausted, heavy sense of responsibility. It stems from feelings of overcommitment together with the need to break free from responsibilities. While possible to muscle through and carry out required tasks regardless of these feelings, there are ways to overcome them instead – and regain the joy that comes from making life better for someone you love. For starters, try these techniques:
- Let go of the guilt. Meeting the caregiving needs of a person can feel unimpactful, mundane, and just downright difficult. It requires selflessness, which can feel burdensome. Yet dreading the day-to-day tasks you’re requested to do in no way is a reflection of how you feel about your family member. Acknowledge to yourself that your role isn’t easy, and therefore it’s ok to wish you could be doing something different.
- Purposely look for joy. The little pleasures each day holds can be diminished because of the difficulties. Make a point every day to identify five small things that make you smile. Keep a journal of every day’s finds and refer back to it at the conclusion of every week. Engage all your senses as you seek out the day’s joys: the smell of freshly baked cookies; the beauty of the sunset; the sound of your cat purring; the invigorating feeling of a hot shower.
- Set boundaries. Schedule time daily to spend on things that you enjoy apart from the senior in your care. Plan and look forward to this time when your caregiving duties start to weigh you down. A trusted care partner is key to ensure that nothing interferes with the important time of taking care of yourself.
Remind yourself that the work you’re doing in being a caregiver for your senior loved one is extremely important. Yet also keep in mind that no one can do it all, and in order to provide the very best care for your loved one as well as for yourself, regular breaks from care tasks are needed.
Call the experts in companion care in Suffolk and surrounding areas at Seniorcorp at 757-640-0557 to schedule regular respite care services and release the stress of caregiving dread. We are here for as much or as little assistance as you need to help you enjoy quality time with an aging loved one and to rediscover joy in your own life as well.