In a world that seems to have lost the idea of the “village,” sometimes we feel pressured to be able to do it all. Asking for assistance or admitting that you are overwhelmed feels like failure, and we often think that we’re being judged by others as not good enough. And that’s just with normal, everyday life.
When you find yourself caring for a loved one, the pressure increases. You are expected to take on this additional burden with a smile, and your willingness to do so seems to be a measurement of your love; expressing your anger or frustration to friends and family earns you appalled looks of disbelief. The good news is that there is a village for you; a caregiver support group. Here are 5 reasons why you should think about joining one.
To Reduce Stress
Perhaps the primary reason to join a support group for caregivers is to reduce your stress levels. Simply having that hour to yourself every week is an important step in separating yourself from the role of caregiver and reclaiming your identity. Being under excessive stress can have negative consequences for both your physical health, and your mental well-being. Maintaining your own well-being is essential to being able to properly care for your loved one.
To Gain a Safe Space
You won’t find any disapproving looks or judgment in a support group. Support groups are by their very nature a confidential and judgment-free zone, where you can discuss your frustrations and less than charitable thoughts with people who understand exactly what you’re going through. They can help alleviate your feelings of guilt and inadequacy, and when you admit to selfish thoughts and attitudes, they will nod their heads and tell you that they understand.
To Reduce Feelings of Isolation
When you’re a caregiver for someone else, it’s easy to find yourself feeling alone, both literally and emotionally. When you can’t leave your loved one to go have a drink with your friends, or you spend all your waking time tending to someone else’s needs, you often find that you don’t have any social interactions. All your contacts are with the person you’re caring for, or their healthcare professionals. Emotionally, it appears nobody else understands you and it’s difficult to relate to those outside your situation. Joining a support group puts you in touch with other people who get it.
To Prevent Burnout
If you end up caring for someone else for too long, without any support system in place for yourself, you’re likely going to suffer from burnout. You’ll reach a point where caring for someone has taken such a toll on you that you are incapable of continuing, and many times, you’ll lose your identity and sense of self. Caregivers leave their support groups feeling refreshed and empowered to keep going. Members can point you in the direction of other resources and programs that can assist you. You may be able to find help with meals, respite care, or even an opportunity to hire a part-time caregiver to relieve you.
To Gain Insights and Advice
Being part of a support group is one of the best ways to find valuable advice and information about caregiving. Everyone has their own methods for dealing with stress, setting boundaries, and finding time for self-care. Having the knowledge of so many others freely available can help you to discover which tips and tricks will work best for you. They may be even able to help prepare you for what to expect down the road.
Joining a caregiver support group may be the best thing that you can do for yourself during this trying time. It will help you maintain your own well-being while caring for another.
Audrey Robinson is a careers blogger, supporting online knowledge libraries like BizDb. Audrey enjoys working with people from different professions, sharing her tips for self-improvement, improving one’s career opportunities and preventing burnout. Feel free to reach out to her on @AudreyyRobinson.