Guilt is a common feeling in caregiving, and if not managed, it can be debilitating, hindering you from taking care of yourself and your loved one. The demands of caregiving, the expectations you have placed on yourself, and the expectations of others can all play into your feeling of guilt. Learning to recognize and manage guilt will allow you to take care of yourself as well as your loved one. Below are several tips for managing caregiver guilt:
- Acknowledge the feeling of guilt.
- Identify other emotions. Are you scared, angry, resentful? Taking the time to listen to your feelings is vital to moving forward and caring for yourself.
- Take care of yourself. You may think you should be doing more, you should have done something else, you wish you could have done something different. Be kind to yourself; you are doing your best. You are loving, caring and compassionate. Pay attention to your self-talk, recognize the self-criticism, frustrations and sadness, but know that you are a great job and doing the best you can.
- Set realistic expectations for yourself. When is too much? When you take a few minutes and listen to what your body and soul are saying, what are you hearing? What if you just need to go for a run, have conversations with other people who are also caregiving? Overextending yourself when caregiving is common, but take the time to think through when you could use some help in order for you to take time for yourself. You most likely have other responsibilities…children, a job, other family members to visit. Feeling like you can’t take care of everything 100 percent can also lead to guilt if you don’t set realistic expectations for yourself.
- Ask for help. When you set realistic expectations and listen to your feelings, you may be able to recognize when you could use help. Do you want to go for a run or to the gym? Do you need help getting your loved one to doctor’s appointments due to your work schedule? Do you need a caregiver to come by during the day to help with daily living activities? Are you uncertain how you are going to get everything done? Identify ways that others can come in and help you.
- Talk with other caregivers. Sharing personal stories will help you realize you are not alone. All caregivers have feelings of guilt. Caregivers need something to strengthen their spirits and provide a moment to refresh. Spending time with other caregivers and even learning how and when they get time to care for themselves may help you.
Caregivers by WholeCare is here to help you care for your loved one. If you would like to learn more about our services, contact us at 615-298-9201.