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Managing the stress of being a caregiver

Caregivers
It’s normal to feel angry and have anxiety as you constantly worry about the loved one under your care. You may also experience a loss of control due to the restrictions that your loved one’s pain has put on your own life. If you ignore your own emotions, these feelings can lead not only to emotional distress but, over time, to physical distress.

Caring for a patient with daily chronic pain can be challenging. The stress is no less whether you are caring for a parent, spouse, significant other or friend. Indeed, the physical and emotional demands of caregiving can be overwhelming; yet watching a loved one struggle can add to the already significant toll that being a caregiver can take on your own life.

You already know the importance of managing your loved one’s pain medication and assisting your loved one with daily activities, from getting dressed to going grocery shopping. But do you stop to consider how you are managing your own emotions and physical well-being?

It’s normal to feel angry and have anxiety as you constantly worry about the loved one under your care. You may also experience a loss of control due to the restrictions that your loved one’s pain has put on your own life. If you ignore your own emotions, these feelings can lead not only to emotional distress but, over time, to physical distress. As a Pain Management Specialist, I have seen the health of many of my patients’ caregivers deteriorate when all of their attention is placed solely on meeting the needs of the loved one under their care.

Facing your stress, instead of ignoring it, can help you stay healthy, both emotionally and physically. To manage your own emotions, you must first recognize what triggers them. For example, if you’re not a morning person, you may be impatient early in the morning. Or, when you feel overwhelmed, a simple conversation may be too much for you. Once you identify these triggers, you’ll have more control over your emotions. Then you can be more mindful in how you react or respond to your loved one, who is facing his or her own struggles.

There are many ways you can manage the stress you experience as a caregiver. You can exercise, pray, keep a journal or talk to a friend. You also may want to consider counseling with a trained professional who can help you develop coping skills. It’s not possible to avoid feelings of anger or anxiety, but it is possible to manage these feelings and, in turn, how they affect your emotional and physical health. By doing so, caregivers can lead healthier and more balanced lives, which will benefit the loved ones under their care, as well.

Get more tips about how to manage the challenges of caregiving.