Cultivating Self-Compassion in Caregiving: A Path to Healing

A woman who acts as a family caregiver for a senior loved one spends time at the beach practicing self-compassion.

: Cultivate self-compassion and move beyond guilt in your caregiving journey.

Family caregivers give quite a lot of themselves to meet the needs of their loved ones, often leaving behind their own desires and needs along the way. It may seem normal, then, to assume that caregivers would feel very good about themselves, with high self-esteem and a sense of purpose.

However, the exact opposite can be more accurate. Caregiver guilt is normal and many family caregivers wish they could have more patience, the answer for all of their family member’s problems, or the ability to take care of everything independently without the necessity for help. They may have set unachievable and unrealistic goals, which can contribute to:

  • Bitterness
  • Feeling stuck
  • Never feeling good enough
  • The desire to get away
  • Lack of happiness in life
  • Heightened stress
  • Missing out on good quality time with a senior loved one
  • And more

If you are struggling with feelings of family caregiver guilt, taking these steps can be incredibly freeing:

  1. Acknowledge your feelings of guilt and pinpoint the particular reason causing it; as an example, “I am feeling guilty because I became impatient with Dad’s repetitive questions.”
  2. Maintain a realistic perspective, knowing that all family caregivers are experiencing challenges. We are all human.
  3. Substitute your internal “should have” dialogues with a more encouraging slant: It is challenging to respond to the same questions repeatedly, and I am doing the very best that I can.”
  4. Shift your focus to a positive outcome. Remind yourself of the joke you shared that made Mom laugh this afternoon, or how much they enjoyed the lunch you prepared.
  5. Be sure to put aside plenty of time for soothing, fun, and rewarding activities: engaging in favorite hobbies and interests, writing in a journal, socializing with friends, family, and pets, etc.
  6. Stick to a healthier lifestyle that includes nutritious meals, aiming for 7 – 8 hours of sleep every night, working out, giving up smoking and limiting alcohol consumption.
  7. Find a support partner. To be the best family caregiver you can be, you need regular, scheduled breaks from care to take care of your own needs.

Reach out to Partners in Care at (530) 268-7423 or contact us online for customized senior care in Auburn, Diamond Springs, and the surrounding areas that allows family caregivers time to destress and unwind, an integral aspect of effective senior care. We’re available based on your desired schedule and routine, with as much or as little ongoing support as needed, up through and including 24/7 care. Keep in mind that taking the best care of yourself allows you to provide the best care for the senior you love, and we are always right here to help!

Shaun Clinkinbeard