5 Ways to Prevent Caregiver Burnout
When constantly caring for someone else, it is easy to forget to care for yourself. Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion due to extensive exposure to the stress of caregiving. When a caregiver reaches a state of exhaustion, life grows difficult for them to care for both themselves and the people they care for. However, there are some steps caregivers can take to prevent burnout. Here are five ways to prevent caregiver burnout.
1. Make Self-Care a Priority
We may not all have time to take a bubble bath, do a face mask, and drink herbal tea after work each night. But that does not mean self-care is unachievable! Little changes to your morning and nighttime routines can make a noticable difference. For example, start your morning with some mindfulness. Whether you choose to take a short walk to clear your head or meditate for a few minutes, practicing mindfulness energizes your body and rejuvenates your mind to start the day. Meditation and relaxation apps make this especially easy and quick! Some of these apps include Headspace, Calm, and BetterMe.
Utilize Your Days Off
Weekends, or any day that you have off, are the perfect opportunity to take a day for you. Now is the time to break out the bath salts, bubbles, and bath bombs! Take the day to unwind and reward yourself for your hard work. Beyond this pampering, try to use these days to refresh your body and mind. Catch up on sleep so that you will be ready for the next work day. Meal prep for the week, making meals that you know will help your body feel its best. Days off are also a good time to unload worries in your head. Journaling, talking to a friend, seeing a therapist, or meditating are a few outlets that can help relieve your worries.
Hold Yourself Accountable
Self-care needs to self-regulated. Most times, no one is there to remind us to take care of ourselves. Because of this, we all need to hold ourselves accountable for self-care. Create a schedule or routine for yourself to make this easier. Share your favorite self-care tips and tricks on social media or follow others who inspire and remind you to take care of yourself. Set reminders on your phone and set aside some time in your calendar for time for you.
2. Read Up
Reading is one of the best ways to learn new information and expand our horizons. When struggling with caregiver stress, reading books or blogs can provide comfort, advice, and relief, especially when they’re written by caregivers who have faced similar situations.
Cozy Up With a Good Book
Reading is both a stress reliever and a way to learn and connect with others. So, curl up during your me-time with popular reads among the caregiver community:
- The Conscious Caregiver: A Mindful Approach to Caring for Your Loved One Without Losing Yourself by Linda Abbit
- Chicken Soup for The Soul: Family Caregivers: 101 Stories of Love, Sacrifice, And Bonding by Joan Lunden and Amy Newmark
- Living with Dying: A Complete Guide for Caregivers by Jahnna Beechman and Katie Ortlip RN, LCSW
- 128 Days and Counting: A 28-Year-Old Caregiver’s Memoir by Honore Notling
- A Guide for Caregiving: What’s Next? Planning for Safety, Quality, And Compassionate Care for Your Loved One and Yourself by Tina M. Marrelli, RN
- The Caregiver’s Survival Handbook: How to Care for Your Aging Parent Without Losing Yourself by Alexis Abramson
Dive Into the Blogosphere
Many caregivers have blogs where they share their own experiences, tips, and advice. Blogs are often helpful to caregivers, as they can find ways to make each day easier and hear from someone who understands the same feelings they’re experiencing. Plus, it’s a bit quicker than reading a whole book! For example, blogger Eileen Lamb publishes a blog called the Autism Cafe. The blog discusses not only food and friends, but also discusses autism, as both she and her son have ASD. The Caregiving Cafe’s blog is another source that offers personal accounts, advice, and tips for caregivers. Created by Lynn Greenblatt, who has experienced caregiving firsthand,the site provides a plethora of knowledge on a variety of caregiving-related subjects.
3. Find Support
While it may seem like people in your life don’t understand the way you’re feeling when you are under stress from caregiving, you’re not alone. Other caregivers experience the same emotions and feelings that you do! Meeting, talking to, and learning from these peers can provide comfort, support, advice, and friendship. Therefore, it’s beneficial to utilize the outlets that exist to connect with other caregivers.
Meet With a Support Group
Support groups for caregivers are out there! Group meetings provide a valuable outlet for releasing stress, chances to meet like-minded people, and a safe space to voice your thoughts. Many disease and condition-focused organizations provide support groups dedicated to serving those affected communities. To join a support group, simply visit your preferred organization’s website to find a location near you and call to ask about their support groups. For example, the Alzheimer’s Association makes it easy to find your local chapter and get involved.
Take Advantage of Online Outlets
Technology allows us to connect with each other in more ways than we ever thought possible. Utilize the opportunities by using sites that allow you to reach other caregivers or people who can help. Websites like the Caregiver Space offer an outlet for caregivers to ask questions, express their feelings, and connect with other caregivers. Another helpful source is Better Help, a website that connects you with a therapist online. Better Help makes the process of finding the right counselor easier and quicker and provides a safe space to talk about how you’re feeling.
4. Remind Yourself of Your Work and Worth
When the stress of caregiving becomes overwhelming, it can be easy to forget why you started caregiving. Remind yourself of the reasons you do what you do. Don’t forget how much of an impact you are having on others each day. Here are some mantras for caregivers:
Repeat “I Am” Statements
Start, end, or offer yourself a pick-me-up during the day by saying some “I am” statements to emphasize your importance.
- “I am compassionate and empathetic.”
- “I am strong and resilient.”
- “I am doing my best.”
- “I am making a difference in someone’s life.”
- “I am working hard.”
- “I am helping others everyday.”
Discover Your Life Philosophy
Having some words to live by gives each day its own importance. While each person has their own unique values and ideals, some examples of life philosophies provide inspiration to help you to build your own.
- “Have hope – that’s really what helps you move forward.” – Elizabeth Sanchez
- “You can do anything, but not everything.” – David Allen
- “Cherish the people who love you and love them with all your heart.” – Jaymee Fiskum
- “There are very hard days, but try to find at least one good thing in your day.” – Mariana Torrado
5. Get Inspired
When under a lot of stress, motivation can be hard to find. One way to stay motivated is to get inspired.
If you’re not in a reading mood, watching a video is an easy way to get energized. Hearing others discuss their experiences with caregiving or knowing and loving someone in care can serve as a reminder of how influential caregiving can be. Many different talks and speeches about caregiving are available online, such as:
- When the Body Says No — Caring For Ourselves While Caring For Others from Dr. Gabor Maté
- When Caregiving Comes Your Way: Pamela Nelson at TEDxSMU 2013
- The Joy of Now: A Caregiver’s Tale | Phyllis Peters | TEDxFlourCity
Look For Inspiration Everywhere
Inspiration lies within all of our lives. Ask your friends and loved ones about their experiences with caregiving. Read books and testimonials of caregivers and those who have received care. Repeat your daily mantras to find the inspiration that is in yourself.