As a caregiver, anxiety is one of those emotions you might start to experience far more frequently than you ever have before. It helps to get a handle on managing it quickly.
Start to Recognize What Anxiety Looks Like for You.
Anxiety looks different for every person. The good news is that once you start to recognize your own anxiety cues you can do something about them. You might have to start by assessing how you feel when you’re deep in anxiety. Then try thinking about how you felt before that. Eventually, you can work your way back to the very first twinges of anxiety. Some of the symptoms you might notice could include tightening in your gut, shortness of breath, a pounding heartbeat, or even tenseness in your muscles.
Analyze the Thoughts You’re Having.
What are the thoughts that are going through your head during an anxiety attack? It might vary depending on the cause of the anxiety, but it can help to see if there’s a common thread. For example, you might be worried that you’re doing something wrong, so the thoughts you’re having might be tied to criticizing yourself harshly.
Practice Consciously Relaxing.
When you’re deep into an anxiety attack, it’s not likely that you’re going to just spontaneously relax. You’ll need to practice consciously relaxing. Deep breathing is one way to do this. A common response to anxiety is to shorten your breathing, making it shallow. The act of concentrating on your breathing and making it deeper and deeper can help to automatically relax you. You might also want to try consciously tensing your muscles and then just as consciously relaxing them.
Let Yourself Have “Anxiety Time.”
Although it sounds silly, having regular time to worry or to let yourself feel anxious can be a huge help. When you give yourself an appointment during which you can worry, really take advantage of it. It might even help to write down what you’re feeling anxious about so that you can get it all out during your appointment with yourself. Start saving worries for these appointments.
Get Extra Help if You’re Stuck.
Don’t feel bad if you feel stuck in dealing with your anxiety. It’s a lot to manage on your own and if you’ve never really had to deal with it, you can find yourself stuck in a loop. Find a therapist you can trust or join a caregiver support group and get help with what has you stuck.
You are your own best helper when it comes to managing your anxiety levels as a caregiver. You’ve got all the information that you need to recognize it and to minimize its effect on your caregiving journey as much as you possibly can.