When you’re a caregiver, worry is a frequent visitor. Worries about what’s happening, what’s next, or what might happen are always on your mind.
Worrying can be a habit – and one that’s sometimes very difficult to break. It can be like an infinite loop, once you start the worry cycle, it just keeps looping through your mind.
Often when you are worrying, you are so busy projecting yourself into a future filled with scary consequences that you miss the present moment.
The “what ifs” that worriers obsess about don’t always come true, but they can wreak havoc on the physical and mental health of the person worrying.
Breaking the caregiver worry cycle takes a lot of practice. You need to pull yourself back from anxious thoughts about the future and plant yourself firmly in the present moment so you can observe and identify the problems, figure out what is under your control and what isn’t, and then figure out how to deal with each.
Here are some tips to break the worry cycle:
- Acknowledge your anxiety. It won’t do you any good to fight the feelings, so just acknowledge them and observe why you’ve having them.
- Don’t engage with the worries. When you acknowledge your worries rather than fighting them, you can treat them like passing cloudy weather. But, when you focus on the worries, it’s difficult to let them go.
- Use meditation or mindfulness to focus on the present moment. A few moments of thinking some happy thoughts or meditating can break that worry loop. Unless you’ve tried meditation before, you may become frustrated about staying focused – especially if you’re in the throes of anxiety. But keep practicing and soon you’ll be able to break the loop.
- Practice other worry-busting techniques. There are many other relaxation techniques which can help you calm the worries so that you can get back to being the caregiver others depend on.
It’s especially difficult to break the caregiver worry cycle if you’re stressed by deadlines or other imminent problems. During those times, try and focus on what you absolutely must get done in order of how important they are, and recognize that sometimes other less important things will just have to wait.
As a caregiver, worry seems like part of the package. Learning how to break the worry cycle and spend less time worry is important for both your physical and mental health.