As a caregiver, you can gradually start to expect so much more of yourself than you might think. This leads then to beating yourself up when you don’t reach those unrealistic expectations for yourself. Being a caregiver means being a little nicer to yourself so that you can care for others in your life.
Be as Kind to Yourself as You Would to Someone Else
When you start noticing that you’re engaging in negative self-talk, ask yourself if you would say that to a friend or even to a stranger. Humans often say things to themselves that they would never dream of saying to someone else. Once you start to notice the pattern, you can start to break it.
Remember that You’re Human
Caregivers start to believe that they’re supposed to be and to do more than they already have. You’re one human being and that means that you do have limitations. Expecting yourself to be perfect or to do more than is humanly possible in any given situation means that you’re being way too hard on yourself.
Look for What You’re Doing Right
If you’ve been focusing on what you’re doing wrong, stop and take out a piece of paper. Write down five situations that you’re handling right. These could be simple at first, such as you’re reminding your senior to take her medications every day. As you practice this exercise more often, you’ll start realizing that you’re doing so many things right, even if there’s the occasional situation that goes wrong.
Focus on Positive Experiences and Events
When you focus only on the negative around you, that’s primarily what you’ll see. Do what you can to focus more on the positive experiences and events in your life. This doesn’t mean that you’re in denial about anything negative, but that you’re giving solid attention to happy events, too. Keeping a gratitude log or a journal can help you to remember the good around you.
Remember to take some time for yourself so that you’re not simply running from one fire to another. These little breaks can help you to keep your feelings about yourself as a caregiver in perspective.
Excerpt: Family caregivers tend to expect a lot out of themselves and this can lead to depression and other negative fallout. Learning how to go easier on yourself enables you to be much more present as a caregiver for those you love.