Caregivers and Stress

There are no easy answers. You love or care for another person and there is no way that you can “fix” the person. They may be sick or hurt or in some sort of difficult situation and no matter what you do, you can not make the “challenge” go away. You are, by some definition, a “victim.” You have “no control” over what happens or how your person of concern is going to respond to their situation. Sometimes you have to “just sit on your hands” while the situation “plays out.” I do not like being in this situation. I want to be actively doing something to help, or at least running around trying to get the healing energies flowing, but this does not always prove useful or may not have any degree of success in changing the situation.

Parents feel this way about their children as they put their kids out into the world to live and to learn the lessons of life. People feel this way when their aging parents begin to fail. Spouses will often feel this kind of helplessness when their partner has been impacted by a severe health or financial challenge. Indeed, most of us who have made it into adolescence have experienced relationships that can evoke this feeling of concern without the power or control to save, or at least help, our friend, family member, schoolmate, or co-worker. People are “caring creatures” much of the time. Our need to nurture and care are “higher functioning” activities that often set us apart from other creatures on our planet. But, though we are often born with this desire to nurture, we are not taught how to deal with stress or anxiety of caring for another person (or pet) when we can not really fix the situation.

Caring without having control can cause anxiety and can lead to depression. In my own life, as a caregiver for my wife, I have experienced the closeness that caring can bring to a relationship and yet the stress and depression that can come from a situation that does not come to a positive resolution, is very difficult to live with. As I have advised others, I practice stress and anxiety management. I get regular exercise. I try to eat in a “healthy” way. I maintain friendships that are positive and therapeutic. I keep busy and productive. BUT, I have those moments when I lie awake, with a mind that will not stop its endless chatter, filling me with worry and concern for my beloved partner. There is not much else I can do but worry, but worry is not helpful.

There are times when my consciousness will drift into a place of spiritual insight and feel the power of these lessons. Though my heart is heavy and my mind races with anxious thoughts, deep inside I touch the source of some unclear wisdom regarding the “point” and the lesson that I am struggling to learn. My only thought for you, if you find yourself in this predicament, is to calm yourself as much as possible (not an easy request) and then go deep within to bask in the light of unconditional love. Find and celebrate the lesson. In this case remember that you can not “push the river.” Sometimes we must just find the feeling and the wisdom of acceptance.

And, do not forget your need for self-care to help sustain you through this difficult lesson. Also, celebrate every moment. Try not to live in the past or in the future. As is said, “Be Here Now!”

Please take GOOD care of yourself!

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