Excerpted from "Feeling Frustrated," Stroke Connection Magazine September/October 2004
Fending Off Frustration
When you find yourself frustrated, distinguish between what you can and can’t change. Trying to change an uncontrollable circumstance always produces frustration. And remember, no matter the circumstance, you do control one thing: how you respond.
Taking a Time Out
Before frustration boils over, head it off with an activity to help you calm down. Count to 10 slowly or take a few deep breaths. If possible, take a brief walk or go to another room to collect your thoughts. Try calling a friend, praying, meditating, singing, listening to music or taking a bath.
Cognitive Therapy for Caregivers
An effective way to reduce stress and frustration is to reframe your thoughts. Cognitive therapy helps you identify unhelpful thought patterns and substitute more adaptive thoughts.
Examples of unhelpful thought patterns and adaptive responses:
- Over-generalization: You take one negative situation or characteristic and multiply it. For example, you are preparing to go to a doctor's appointment when you discover your car battery is dead. You conclude, "Something always goes wrong."
Adaptive response: "This doesn't happen all the time. Usually my car works just fine."
- Discounting the positive: You overlook the good things about you and your circumstances. You say, "I could do more" or "Anyone could do what I do."
Adaptive response: "Caregiving isn't easy. It takes courage, strength and compassion to do what I do. I'm not always perfect, but I do a lot and try to be helpful."
- Mindreading: You assume a friend who has not called is angry with you.
Adaptive response: "I don't know what my friend is thinking. Maybe she did not get the message or is busy. If I want to know what she is thinking, I'll have to ask her."
- Fortune-telling: You predict a negative outcome in the future. For example, you won't try adult day care because you assume your survivor won't enjoy it.
Adaptive response: "I can't predict the future. He may not like it, but we won't know for sure unless we try it."
Source: Adapted from “Family Caregiver Alliance: Dementia, Caregiving and Controlling Frustration.”