Do you fume at stop lights? Does the salesgirl’s insincere ‘Have a nice day!’ infuriate you? Do you scream at the dog simply for existing?
Could you be experiencing caregiver anger?
Really, anger is a reasonable reaction on your part. It’s a stage of grief, and grief is certainly an emotion you are experiencing. Moreover, your life has been hijacked, you may be shouldering more than your fair share of the caregiving, you are scared—and it is entirely possible that the person you have just turned your life inside out for is busy yelling at you! Layer in sleepless nights and the frustration of having lost control of just about everything and you are well within your rights.But no matter how justified your anger may be, you also know that you can’t just go around harrumphing at the world. Nor can you bottle it up; you’ll explode. Plus you will end up with headaches, high blood pressure, heart disease, gastrointestinal issues—and some serious relationship problems, to boot. Better to diffuse it now.
Four Ways to Diffuse Anger
- Use the power for good. Throw all that energy into exercise; your health will improve and so will your waist line. Pour it into gardening or cleaning—any activity that requires hard manual labor. Physical work not your thing? Channel your energy into research; you may discover a useful clinical trial.
- Expend your anger peacefully. From a therapist to a support group to a journal, simply recognizing and expressing your feelings will help alleviate them.
- Minimize environmental angst. Now is the time to resign from the book club that bores you, to replace the toaster that keeps sticking, to quit wearing that itchy sweater—essentially to rid your life of all petty irritants. That may also include setting limits on how much fetching and carrying you are willing to do for your care recipient. Even when you love them to pieces, it’s all right to say ‘no' every now and then.
- Let it go. Ultimately, the only thing you can control is yourself. Breathe out your anger. Be conscious of the calm. Celebrate one small victory at a time.