10 Ways for Caregivers to Fix a Bad Day
Caregiving is challenging. Caring for an adult is physically and emotionally demanding. Even the best days are hard. While rationally, you know that you are not a caregiver for the glory, but because you love the person you’re caring for, it is still draining.
We all have bad days when nothing seems to be going right. Bad days can spiral – one bad thing happens, then another and soon you feel like you are in a bad day downward spiral. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could just do a do-over? Since that’s not possible, how can a caregiver handle the bad days?
10 Ways for Caregivers to Recover from a Bad Day
- Stop and breathe. Sometimes, when I’m really stressed out, I notice that my breathing is shallow, which doesn’t help calm me down. If you are having a stressful day, stop and breathe. Breathe in for a count of 8, hold your breath for a count of 3 and breathe out for a count of 10. Do it a few times to calm down.
- Scream into a pillow. If your caree is getting under your skin, grab a pillow and scream into it – or punch it. Yes, you’ll look a little nuts but you’ll feel better by blowing off steam.
- OK, you may not be able to get away for an extended period, but I have been known to hide in the bathroom when I just need a minute. Lock the door and just sit in silence.
- If you are hiding – or not – it is perfectly OK to cry. Sometimes our bodies just need a release. You can’t hold everything inside. I am not a crier but when I’m under a lot of stress, I find crying helps me calm down and get my anger or stress out.
- Walk away. If you can get away for ten minutes, take a quick walk around the block to clear your head.
- Clean something. Sounds crazy, right? But sometimes, scrubbing something can help you take out your aggression. I’m not a big “clean when I’m stressed” person, but when my husband is stressed or angry, our house is usually sparkling.
- Drink something hot. Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea. You’ll have to slow down to drink it, which will hopefully help you calm down.
- Blast Music. I used to have a really stressful job. The only way to come down from a high stress day was to blast my favorite music on my drive home. I sometimes stayed in my car for an extra few minutes in the garage to keep listening to my favorite music. I now go for a walk with my iPod turned up really loud when I’m having a particularly stressful day.
- Sometimes the best thing you can do when you’re having a bad day is laugh at the ridiculousness of it. If you can’t find anything to laugh at in your situation, go to YouTube.com and type in funny videos. You’ll be bombarded with videos that will surely make you giggle.
- Remind yourself that this too shall pass. No situation is endless. Every bad day ends. Every bad situation eventually resolves itself. Just accept that you are having a bad day in a bad season and put one foot in front of the other for today.
If the bad days are frequent, try to find ways to incorporate joy into your life or look for back up so that you’re not always struggling. Of course you’re going to have difficult days as a caregiver, but if every single day is difficult, you need to find a way to help yourself out of your situation.
I’m not saying you need to stop caring for your loved one, but maybe you need to outsource some caregiving tasks or use shortcuts to save yourself time. While these tips are ways to conquer a bad day, there are solutions to managing a difficult time that may require more long-term effort.
Consider keeping a gratitude journal to remind yourself of your blessings. Take care of your health. Get a good night’s sleep and incorporate self-care into your day. You can also explore a new hobby or take up an old forgotten hobby. If nothing else, watch a funny movie or read a good book. You can also reach out to friends or try to make new friends to help with caregiver loneliness. If nothing is helping, consider speaking with a professional. You are important and your well-being is important. Don’t completely lose yourself in the care of others.
While it may seem like you are in a black hole, continue to remind yourself that this too shall pass. You will come out of this stronger and better.