Caring for others can be stressful. Whether we are caring for children:
Or aging parents (and grandparents):
Or a mentally ill or disabled family member:
It sometimes feels as if there aren’t enough hours in the day. And, despite our best intentions we get worn down by our responsibilities and we find ourselves getting annoyed with those we are caring for. Then we feel guilty, embarrassed, or ashamed for being angry with people we love.
I am here to tell you that you are not alone. An estimated 65 million people are caregivers to mentally ill or developmentally delayed family members in the USA alone. And there is hope.
- Learn what resources are available to you. There could be respite services available through your county or day care facilities.
- Regardless of which age group you are caring for, get some education regarding developmental expectations, or in the case of mental illness, learning which symptoms to expect can help relieve your stress.
- Self-care is hugely important. Do something everyday just for yourself. Get a massage or go for a walk, or take a hot bath, read a book, watch one favorite tv show or movie, go out for a meal, etc.
- Be realistic in your expectations and have small goals.
- Support groups are wonderful. They provide you with others who can truly “get” what you are going through and you will feel less isolated.
- In some cases, short-term therapy can be beneficial, either for yourself or for your family. Short-term therapy can help you get a handle on your emotions, help you develop realistic goals, and help you develop healthy boundaries.