When you become the caregiver for a family member, it can be especially challenging to avoid burnout when your loved one relies on you for almost everything. If you begin to experience any of these signs, you may be putting yourself, and the ones you care for, at risk.
Signs of Burnout:
- sleep deprivation
- poor eating
- lack of exercise
- physical fatigue or pain
- increased feelings of depression, anxiety, and isolation
To prevent burnout, you should make time to take care of yourself. Self-care is easy to ignore when you are juggling numerous commitments, but it is vital to being a good caregiver. When you can give yourself the proper rest, nutrition, and exercise you need, you are better able to serve your loved one.
Here are five ways to manage your responsibilities and care for yourself:
Rest & Relaxation
Caregiving is a stressful position to be in – it can be physically, emotionally and even financially demanding. You cannot always prevent stresses from occurring, but you can be proactive in reducing the effects of stress. Stress-reducing activities include exercise, meditation or being outdoors. Asking a friend to join you for dinner can even be a relaxing activity that allows you to unwind. Incorporating relaxing activities into your schedule allow you to recharge your batteries and be better prepared for stressful encounters. Likewise, getting a quality night of sleep is the most important thing you can give yourself. Learn more about the health benefits of a good night sleep here.
When balancing work, family, caregiving and countless other items on your list, exercise is most frequently procrastinated or outright ignored. Walking is one of the best exercises you can do for your body and can be done almost anywhere. Take 15 minutes a day to take a walk – this can be good for both your body and your mind. Exercise can improve your energy levels, give you better rest and reduce stress. Finding a fitness buddy can make exercise more enjoyable and provide encouragement. Nutrition is also an important factor of your physical wellness. Skipping meals or eating late night fast food is depriving your body of the fuel it needs to make you a good caregiver. Eat foods that are healthy and boost energy naturally to give you strength to get through the day.
Rituals & Routines
Like most of our daily activities, if we don’t make time for it, it won’t happen. “You time” should be scheduled into your calendar. Establishing a morning and evening ritual can help you start, and end, the day with ease. Give yourself 15 minutes every morning to meditate, stretch and think about your day. In the evenings, set yourself up for a good night’s rest. Write out your to-do list for the next day, so you aren’t lying in bed stressing that you will forget something. Turn off distractions such as the television and allow yourself to slip peacefully into a well-deserved rest.
Seeing the Doctor
You probably speak with your loved one weekly about their physical wellness: how they’re feeling, the medications they are taking, and ensuring they get treated when they are ill. You probably rarely talk about, much less doing anything about, your own health needs. Many times, family caregivers will defer their own doctors’ appointments because they don’t feel they have time. Give yourself the medical attention you need and stand by your appointments with doctors and dentists to maintain your best self.
Asking for Help
How many times have you heard yourself say, “No thank you, I’m fine,” when a friend or family asks if you need anything? There is no shame in accepting assistance, and there is nothing wrong with asking for manageable favors. Some examples include asking a neighbor to sit with your loved one for half an hour while you run an errand, or asking a friend to pick up your children from school a few times a week. Connect with a local support group to share your experience with, and learn from the experiences of others. Although you may feel responsible for bearing the burden, remember that you are not alone.
If you need assistance with cleaning, caregiving, or companionship for your loved one, Assisting Hands Home Care is here to help. For a full list of ways we can help visit our services page.