Caregiver burnout: has anyone tried tapping for anxiety? I need tips!

One of my friends told me to try “tapping”, but I don’t know what she means.

Dear Carl,

I'm feeling completely overwhelmed. I'm trying to handle the needs of my loved one and my own life, and this seems almost impossible. Lately, I am very anxious, exhausted, and emotionally drained. I feel like I'm constantly on edge and taking it out on everyone. The worst part is I feel so anxious sometimes that I can’t catch my breath. Please help. One of my friends told me to try “tapping”, but I don’t know what she means. Any advice or techniques that could help me calm down would be appreciated.

— An Overwhelmed Caregiver

Dear Overwhelmed,

Oh, how profoundly disorienting this caregiving journey can be! It's very natural for you to feel a lack of control and a sense of being overwhelmed. Given the monumental task you're facing, these feelings are par for the course.

So, firstly, allow yourself some grace. Remember that you are human and it's natural to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and fatigued throughout your journey as a caregiver. Remember too, like all emotions, they have a beginning, a middle, and an end, so I assure you, you will navigate through this challenging time! I’m happy to hear that you have been sharing your feelings of overwhelm with a friend as it’s so necessary to vent to our confidants so we don’t feel so alone in this journey. The fact that your friend told you about “tapping” is an added plus!

There are many kinds of tapping techniques used for calming, but you can begin with one known as the Butterfly Tap, a proven strategy for settling your nervous system swiftly. Start by crossing your arms over your chest, interlocking your thumbs to form a butterfly shape. Close your eyes and alternate tapping your chest with each hand, mimicking a butterfly's fluttering wings. As you tap, focus on taking slow, deep, intentional breaths into your abdomen. Continue this until your breathing normalizes and you feel your anxiety subsiding, both physically and mentally, until you regain your clarity of thought.

Acquiring coping skills to help regulate your nervous system is an essential aspect of your caregiving journey. Just like learning to tap into the Butterfly Tap technique, there are numerous other strategies you can explore. These might include mindfulness practices, relaxation exercises, or engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Incorporating these coping skills into your routine can provide you with a sense of control and calm amidst the chaos of caregiving. Remember, mastering self-soothing techniques like tapping is just one step in acquiring coping skills to help regulate your nervous system on this caregiving journey. 🦋🦋🦋

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