“Kindness can transform someone’s dark moment with a blaze of light. You’ll never know how much your caring matters. Make a difference for another today.” ~Amy Lee Mercree
Are you a caregiver for an older person or for someone with disabilities? If so, my guess is that you’re doing it because you care about the person, but it wasn’t really part of your plan.
Caregiving is a tiring and often thankless job that can easily leave you depleted on so many levels. If you end up burning out, you will not be any good to yourself or anyone else, right? So, you’ve got to find time to care for yourself along the way.
What is Burnout?
In case you’ve never heard of burnout, it’s something that many people experience when they become overwhelmed by something they’re dealing with or going through. The official definition, according to Helpguide.org, is “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.”
5 Top Tips to Prevent Burnout for Caregivers
Burnout puts you and your loved one at risk when you’re a caregiver. Fortunately, there are 5 ways to prevent caregiver burnout. Let’s go over them now.
1. Talk To Someone Who You Trust As Well As A Therapist
The bottom line is that when you have been trusted into a caregiver role regardless of the reason, you are going to have many dark feelings and thoughts. Your freedom has been stripped from you as you are responsible for the care of someone else who can be potentially violent, or at the very least difficult to care for.
Bottling up your feelings and thoughts will only lead to depression and burnout. Find someone who you trust such as a friend or a family member to vent to. Find a therapist as well who can get you through it and they can send you tips as well on how to cope.
2. Take Advantage Of Respite Care
You need a break. And when you have your break, you will feel refreshed enough to take on the caregiving challenge. There are respite programs around that will care for your care recipient while you go and do something that you enjoy so you can recharge. During the COVID-19 pandemic, unfortunately, this cannot happen.
Therefore, the best thing to do is to allow your care recipient to have more screentime or alone time so you can go rest and do something you need for yourself.
3. Set Realistic Goals And Know Your Limits
There is only so much you can do as far as caregiving goes. The job will only get tougher later on. You may have to make the heartbreaking decision to put your elderly parent into a care home, or your disabled child into a group home. Wait times can be problematic but it is best to put them on lists.
4. Focus On Living A Healthy Lifestyle
It may be cliche, but eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep is highly important for you to be functional. You want to keep your health in good shape too as if you get sick, then who will care for your care recipient? Being committed to a healthy lifestyle will help keep your mental health stronger as well.
5. Develop Healthy Coping Tools
You may be tempted to eat junk all day to distract yourself from the stress. However, you know that is detrimental to your health. Therefore, develop coping tools such as meditation, humor, praying, or anything that works for you. These will help you get through the difficult days as well.
Remember: you might sometimes have dark feelings and thoughts. You could have days where you’ll be resentful, angry, jealous of those who don’t have your challenges, and so on. Honor those feelings and talk about them to your therapist and trusted contacts. You are human after all, and you are allowed to have moments of weakness. Don’t try to get through them all alone.