When Good Caregivers Snap

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Snapped lately? All family caregivers lose their cool sometimes. Living with an elder is that stressful. Sometimes the target winds up being the hapless coffee shop clerk, and sometimes it's the person you love best in the world. If outbursts are happening increasingly often, consider them a warning sign to find better ways to channel caregiver anger.

That's right, channel. Letting it out is actually healthier than keeping it bottled inside, which ups your risk of high blood pressure, depression, and heart disease. Exactly how you choose to release the frustration and tension doesn't matter (so long as you don't hurt anybody!). What matters is that you find an outlet -- or two or three -- to release those unpleasant feelings.

Next time you feel your steam rising, try "taking five" to:

  • Attack a home chore that requires mindless energy, like scouring a sink or chopping veggies.

  • Go off and punch a pillow.

  • Do jumping jacks or pump some hand weights.

  • Scream in the privacy of your car, with the windows rolled up.

  • Engage in deep breathing until you feel calmer.

  • Call a trusted friend who's agreed to listen without comment in a crisis, and vent.

  • Write out your deep, dark feelings online (in a Word document, not on Facebook!) -- and then delete them.

  • Express yourself in an online caregiver chat group, where you'll have ready and empathetic ears.

  • Talk to yourself in the bathroom mirror, with the door closed so you can't be heard.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio