I've heard stories from friends about the agony and stress caused by caring for their aging parents. Their rolls vary depending on the level of care their parents' need. Some are fortunate in that their parents require very little care; perhaps just a daily check-in to make sure all is well. Others are faced with greater challenges. A parent may require the level of care offered at a long-term care facility or nursing home. Trying to avoid the financial burden of such a facility, the individual may assume the role of the caregiver performing tasks such as cleaning, managing finances, cooking, feeding, bathing and dressing in addition to constantly monitoring to ensure their parent's safety.

Providing care at this level requires a great deal of energy. And the physical and mental or emotional aspects of caregiving can deplete or drain that energy. Some signs that the caregiver is experiencing an energy drain may include unrelenting sadness or worry; feeling exhausted most of the time; or becoming angry, frustrated or irritated easily.

Negative emotions can have a significant impact. Negative emotions result in stress. They arise when people feel or believe they are unable to cope with the demands of their environment. Worry, irritation, frustration and anger can drain anybody's energy. Neither the caregiver or the one being cared for benefits from these negative emotions. Imagine for a moment that you are a bucket of energy. Now imagine that every time you worry, get angry, or become frustrated or irritated you poke a hole in your bucket. It's no wonder that people who experience these kinds of negative emotions constantly during the day deplete their energy and become exhausted.

Emotional intelligence studies have shown that the autonomic nervous system can become erratic as a result of negative emotions. This inhibits our access to our knowledge and prevents us from thinking clearly. Research such as this provides insight into the statement, "I was so mad I couldn't think straight." Concerned with their peoples' performance and health, organizations have launched initiatives to address stress in the workplace. Healthcare organizations are concerned with the potential problems in patient safety resulting from stress and emotional mismanagement.

To stop this energy drain, caregivers can do some simple things. By spending just a moment several times a day recalling and re-experiencing fun times they have had in the past, caregivers can stop the negative, draining emotions and evoke positive emotions. Positive emotions have a calming effect on the heart, resulting in orderly, coherent heart rhythms. These positive emotions facilitate clear thinking, enabling us to access all of the knowledge we have to come up with solutions to issues and problems. Positive emotions such as joy, happiness, gratitude and appreciation energize us and plug our energy bucket's leaks caused by negative emotions.

When you're worried about the person you're caring for, it may seem hard to try to recall positive emotions such as joy, appreciation and gratitude. But worry and other negative emotions don't help in a tough situation. An alternative that can help is to take ten to fifteen seconds to experience positive emotions and ask yourself, "How best can I deal with this particular situation?" Listen to what your own intuition tells you to do – and do it. The caregiver may find the stress starting to diminish, resulting in more energy at the end of the day.

Author's Bio: 

Tailoring his programs to your needs, Byron Stock offers emotional intelligence training programs, speaking, coaching and testing services. Dedicated to the art and science of emotional intelligence, Byron's highly interactive programs target today's issues and focus on results. Visit byronstock.com to download a free excerpt of his book, Smart Emotions for Busy Business People.