Caretaking takes a considerable emotional toll. You need to gather your strength and help your loved one handle their health issues and the sadness associated with them, and you have to do so with a smile, trying your best not to be affected by their plight.

Taking care of a sick relative is important, both for you and the person you care about. They need you, and in many ways you need them, so your role in their life is one of mutual importance and dependency. But for many caretakers, that level of “giving” has its downsides. It’s not uncommon to be strongly affected by your loved one’s illness and forced to hold back on those emotions in order to be the perfect caregiver.

Caregiver Anxiety

It’s found that a great number of caregivers end up suffering from anxiety, particularly as the disease starts to worsen. This anxiety has a number of different causes including, but not limited to:

• Emotional Toll – Watching your loved one get sicker and sicker can take a lot out of you. It’s tough to watch anyone go through an illness. When it’s someone you care about, it becomes even worse.

• Mortality – Caretaking in general causes you to face your own mortality. Any time you watch someone you care about get sick, it’s a reminder that everyone will someday experiencing failing health.

• Loss of Your Own Caregiver – In a way, when you are facing the loss of a family member, you are looking at a loss as well. Someone that has cared for you in the past may soon no longer be with you, and that can cause fear and anxiety.

You’re also spending a great deal of energy caring about their needs and not your own, and that too can cause an increase in anxiety.

Strategies to Cope

Coping with caregiver anxiety is a difficult process. You still need to play your role as caregiver, but you also need to take care of your own anxiety issues. The only way to do that effectively is to find a way to cope with the anxiety you’re experiencing. Talk therapy is always an option, but many people do not have the time or finances to get the treatment they need. That is why you need to find other ways to cope with your anxiety and stress. The best course of action is the following:

• Join a Support Group
Caregiver anxiety is common, and so in most cities there are support groups where people can meet and talk about their worries and fears. Knowing that there are others that are experiencing the same amount of stress and anxiety is a great way to help relieve some of your own pressures. Support groups are encouraging and hopeful ways to share more personal coping strategies with other caregivers and see what works best for you.

• Connect with Others
When you act as a caregiver, it’s easy to lose track of friendships, and keeping those in your life that make you happy and relaxed. But you need that social support around you to cope with the stress of being a caregiver. So reconnecting with those individuals is crucial. Find a way to spend time with your friends no matter how tired you are from the caregiving activities, even if it means they watch TV with you before you go to sleep. It’s very important to have that social support available.

• Evaluate Your Anxiety Causes
You also need to reflect on your own concerns and worries, and see if you can address them individually. For example, if you experience anxiety because you don’t feel you’re providing enough support for the ill family member, you may need to look at why you have those high expectations, and find a way to stop being that hard on your own abilities. If you’re anxious because you’re concerned your loved one is unhappy, you can talk to them more often and make sure that you’re openly communicating. By discovering the reasons for your anxiety and stress, you can address each one and find a way to cope accordingly so that your anxiety doesn’t worsen and you avoid developing an anxiety disorder.

Find Your Method of Coping

Your loved ones need you. But they don’t want you to be miserable in the short and long term simply because they need your help. You owe it to yourself, and to them, to find a way to cope with the anxiety and stress you experience as a caretaker. Connect with others, make sure you figure out the source of your anxiety and find ways to address it, and make sure that you’re working towards improving your own mental health. It will make you a better caretaker, and ensure that you are able to enjoy your life both now and in the future.

Author's Bio: 

Ryan Rivera has dealt with numerous anxiety issues of his own, and supplies coping strategies and techniques at