Managing emotions as a caregiver can be challenging.

How to Deal with Emotional Challenges in Stressful Situations

A caregiver’s role is challenging. Things don’t always turn out the way you want them to. You may feel unhappy and find reasons to be angry. Sometimes, you may also feel impatient, depressed and hostile.

Find out about some common negative emotions caregivers face and how to go about managing emotions caused by stressful situations.

Guilt

Even when things go well, you may think you are not doing enough. Feeling guilty happens when you expect things that are not realistic and affect your mental wellbeing.

Other reasons why caregivers feel guilty:

  • Not wanting to be a caregiver in the first place

  • Feeling resentful at other family members for not helping more

  • Anger that you cannot do things you enjoy, like go for holidays, enjoy hobbies, or even have some free time

Your care recipient keeps wanting more from you, making you feel like you are not doing enough

At least once every day, to improve your mental wellness, tell yourself:

  • How much you are helping the person in your care (care recipient)

  • Even if you do not do everything well, you are doing everything with love

  • You are improving your caregiving skills and showing compassion

  • Forgive and forget as you cannot change what happened in the past

Related: Coping with Bereavement for Better Mental Wellness

Anger

You may feel trapped because of your loved one’s illness. It is natural to feel frustrated or angry but showing it openly to your care recipient will not improve the situation. However, it is also not healthy to keep these feelings to yourself.

Instead, try these options to boost your mental wellbeing and get better at managing your emotions:

  • Join a support group for caregivers for caregiver support. It can let you share your feelings openly. Group members will understand how you feel and no one will make you feel guilty. They may even offer advice. Research also shows that support groups can help caregivers deal with their situations better.

  • Make an appointment with a therapist, family counsellor or spiritual advisor. If possible, make one for yourself and a separate one for you and your loved one.

  • Keep a journal and write down your feelings.

  • Remember that your loved one may try to control whatever they can if they feel that they have lost control of their life

  • Do not blame your care recipient for the situation you are in. The illness, not the care recipient, is the reason for the difficulties and challenges both of you are facing.

  • Sometimes, it is necessary to tell the care recipient how you feel. However, avoid accusing him or her personally. Telling him or her ”You make me angry“ may make the situation worse. Instead, try telling him/ her this: ”I am trying to understand what you are going through, please try to understand what I am going through too.“

Related: Finding Emo: Managing Your Emotions

Depression

Caregiving can be emotionally stressful, triggering negative emotions like guilt and anger. Sometimes, these negative emotions can then lead to depression.

Depression puts your health and well-being at risk and can affect your loved one’s recovery. Depression can also increase the risk of developing illnesses such as heart disease.

If you have symptoms of stress, here are some ways to manage them:

  • Set aside time for yourself

  • Make and keep doctors’ appointments to maintain your own health

  • Join a caregiver support group to expand your network

  • Make use of respite care opportunities – you must rest so that you can care for your loved one better.

  • Talk to a professional, friend or family member about the challenges you face and explore ways to manage your stress.


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