What are your very first thoughts as soon as you wake up in the morning? Are you looking forward to what the day will bring, or would you like to crawl back beneath the covers and remain there? If you are experiencing more dread than delight as you consider your caregiving responsibilities for the day, you are not alone.
Distinctly different from anxiety, depression, or even burnout, caregiver dread is a heavy, exhausted feeling of obligation. It stems from feelings of overcommitment and the need to get away from responsibilities. While feasible to muscle through and carry out required tasks in spite of these feelings, there are ways to conquer them instead – and restore the joy which comes from making life better for someone you love. For starters, try these techniques:
- Let go of the guilt. Meeting the care needs of a loved one can feel mundane, unimpactful, and just downright tough. It requires selflessness, which can feel burdening. Yet dreading the day-to-day tasks you’re required to do by no means is a reflection of how you feel about your loved one. Acknowledge to yourself that your role isn’t easy, and that it is ok to wish you could be doing something else.
- Deliberately search for joy. The tiny pleasures every day holds can be diminished because of the difficulties. Make the effort every day to find 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 of your senses while you search for the day’s joys: the smell of freshly brewing coffee; the beauty of the sunrise; the sound of your kitten purring; the invigorating feeling of a hot shower.
- Set boundaries. Schedule time daily to devote to pursuits that you enjoy independent of the senior loved one in your care. Plan and look forward to this time when your care responsibilities start to weigh you down. An established and reliable care partner is paramount to ensure that nothing interferes with the important time of taking care of yourself.
Remind yourself that the work you are doing in taking care of your loved one is very important. Yet also remember that no one can do it all, and in order to provide the most effective care for your loved one as well as for yourself, frequent breaks from care tasks are essential.
Get in touch with our aging care experts at (949) 859-4700 to schedule regular respite care services and release the burden of caregiver dread. As award-winning caregivers in Orange County and the surrounding communities, we are here for as much or as little assistance as you need to help you enjoy quality time with a family member and to rediscover joy in your own life as well.