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  • Ann Hollander

Dealing with anxiety

It's only natural for family caregivers to worry. Understandably, we spend a lot of time thinking about "what's next."

But if you are in a pattern of persistent worry and are starting to feel the stress in your body too—perhaps headaches, loss of appetite, or trouble sleeping—you may be dealing with anxiety. You are not alone. An estimated 40 million Americans report problems with anxiety each year.

Does this sound familiar?

  • Focusing on worst-case scenarios. Not seeing the things that are working well.

  • Playing a worry over and over in your mind. This may distract you during the day and interfere with sleep at night.

  • Thinking in black-and-white terms only. Your self-talk often includes "always" or "never."

  • Getting stuck on details. Forgetting to look at the big picture.

Try these challenges to negative thinking to help you arrive at a more balanced view:

  • What are you saying to yourself? Write it down. Is this extreme or worst-case-scenario thinking?

  • What do you know to be true? What is fact? What is just a thought or feeling?

  • What is the worst that could happen? Is it a probability or just a possibility?

  • What skills, resources, or qualities do you already possess? Give yourself realistic credit.

  • What can you do now to make life easier (learn new skills, ask others for help)?

If anxiety is getting in the way of your sleep or peace of mind, talk with your doctor. And certainly, if you experience chest pains, a racing heart, and/or episodes of fast breathing, get checked out. Talking with a therapist can quickly get you back on a confident and even keel. And consider getting help with your caregiving. Working with an Aging Life Care Manager will give you a knowledgeable sounding board to provide perspective and solutions to ease your concerns.

Do you find yourself with anxious thoughts? Perhaps it's time to get some caregiving help. As the North Shore and Chicago experts in family caregiving, we at Options for Aging find that families often underestimate how much work it is to care for an aging loved one. They end up paying for it in terms of distress, poor health, and trouble sleeping. Not a very good quality of life. You don't have to do this alone. Give us a call: 847-868-1445.

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