Being a caregiver is stressful and taxing.
Every day you prioritize others and worry you are not doing enough. You do your best to keep loved ones healthy, stable, and safe. Then, COVID-19 happened. In addition to everything you already do, you are also worrying about getting sick, paying bills, and navigating relentless changes. The “normal” stress of care giving, combined with the uncertainty of the pandemic, brings you to the edge of your breaking point.
You don’t have to do this alone. Here are six ways caregivers can cope during COVID.
1. Recognize negative feelings are normal responses to extraordinary circumstances.
Identify your feelings (i.e., feeling anxious, disappointment, fearful and resentful) and try not to judge them. Remember, your feelings are reasonable reactions to extraordinary circumstances. Work to let those feelings go and do not let them control you. Do not let fear and guilt take over. Being a caregiver is a dynamic role which means expectations are constantly changing. It makes sense that you are feeling badly, particularly during the pandemic.
2. Identify what you can and cannot control.
Recognize what you can control and let anything else go (for now).You cannot control other people’s actions, feelings or health. You cannot control COVID-19 virus or policymakers’ decisions. However, you can control your actions. Turn off the television, limit news and social media intake, and set boundaries.
3. Give yourself permission to care for yourself.
The Number One Rule of Care giving is “Take care of yourself so you can take care of others.” Set aside time to focus on what you need to feel better. Exchange worrying for positive thinking, mediation, reading or listening to relaxing music.
4. Plan Accordingly.
Caregivers are creative, adaptable, and great problem solvers. Use your skills to prepare for emergencies, lower your expectations, and relax your standards. Give yourself more time to get tasks done, break tasks into smaller pieces so you don’t feel overwhelmed, and communicate more frequently about change to set yourself and your loved one at ease. Realize that you cannot plan for all possibilities and focus on doing your best with the information you are given.
5. Connect with Friends, Family and Resources.
Social distancing can create isolation for you and your loved ones. This can amplify uncertainty and increase feelings of loss. Ask for the support of a friend and seek the support of a professional caregiver. Make an effort to find ways to increase connection and stay involved. Reach out to one friend, family member ,or support person each day. Use technology and attempt to schedule phone calls, video chats, or e-mail friends. Ask someone to be an accountability partner and have daily check-ins to ensure that you follow through. Do not forget to utilize helpful online resources such as local human resources, Aging and Adult Services, National Council on Aging, Caregiver Action Network, and Family Caregiver Alliance.
6. Ask for Professional Help.
If you find yourself needing additional support during this time, please reach out to a qualified mental health provider. Speaking with a therapist can help you cope with stressful situations so that life feels a bit more manageable. At Approach Therapy we offer teletherapy appointments which means that you can connect with a therapist without leaving the house. In addition, we have therapists available during the day, evenings, and on weekends. Take a look at our therapists’ availability by clicking here.
Don’t give up hope! Caregivers can cope during Covid-19.