A lot in life demands our daily attention—work, our family, pets, accidents, bills, and sometimes a loved one who has reached a tender age or has a disability and needs our help.
When you’re taking care of everything else, it’s easy to feel like you’re drowning in responsibilities. Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental tiredness. Caregivers who are under stress can often develop weariness, anxiety, and depression as a result of providing care for those who need it without relief for themselves.
Taking care of yourself is vital in addressing and avoiding caregiver burnout. Find time to focus on your own interests and personal wellness. You can also ask for help—create a network of supporters and consider hiring a respite caregiver to help take the load off your shoulders.
Being a caregiver to someone, especially someone you love, can make it feel like you’re unable to change your circumstances without letting your loved one down. However, it’s necessary to remind yourself that you have control over the situation.
Caring for Yourself Is Essential
1 in 5 Americans find themselves giving unpaid care to seniors and people with disabilities. Most of these caregivers receive very little assistance, and very few have any training for what they do. Therefore, it’s no surprise that 40% of caregivers are in danger of burnout and lack the energy to look after themselves.
Regardless of how severe your circumstances appear, you can always take steps to lessen the burden.
What Matters to You
How do you decide what’s important and what matters to you? Think of it this way, all tasks in life can be boiled down into 4 categories:
- Category 1: think urgent and important, like fighting a fire. These kinds of crucial activities are your responsibility and need your immediate and entire attention. However, only a few things fall under this category, especially if you stay on top of the tasks in Category 2.
- Category 2: consider these tasks not urgent but important, like going to the gym. It needs to get done, but there is always tomorrow.
- Category 3: urgent but unimportant. These tasks are the kind that other people may value highly but that you may not. The types of activities that in two weeks will have been forgotten about.
- Category 4: not urgent and not important. Social media, movies—time-wasting activities. Activities and endeavours that make you feel good but have no positive impact on your development can be found in category 4. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t indulge now and then, especially if these activities help you de-stress. But consider your time first.
Saying no to tasks that exhaust you is perfectly acceptable. Don’t pressure yourself to prepare a home-cooked meal every night or have the cleanest house. Instead, concentrate on the basics. This can help open up time for rest and recovery.
Personal Wellness Regimen
Develop easy daily routines to give yourself enough sleep, water, and exercise. Make this your top priority, and stay up-to-date on appointments like the dentist or doctor. You’ll be a more effective caregiver if you look after yourself first.
Network of Supporters
Few people can do it on their own. Involve family members and close friends in the caregiving. Even those unable to give hands-on care may be able to assist with duties such as groceries, bill payments, appointment setting, and staying on top of house chores.
It might be hard at first to let others help, especially people you don’t personally know. But to give a primary caregiver a break from the challenges of caring for an older adult or disabled family member, respite caregivers are an option. Respite caregivers offer reprieve at home, in facilities or retirement homes with overnight accommodations.
Spotting Caregiver Burnout
The best way to prevent caregiver burnout is to watch for the signs and symptoms, just like with any other health problem. Prevention is better than recovery. Anytime you can prevent rather than spend time recovering is a win. The most typical warning signs of caregiver burnout are the following:
- Compared to before, you have a lot less energy.
- You seem to contract every cold or virus going around.
- You’re still perpetually worn out, even after a nap or a break.
- You disregard your own needs, either because you’re too busy or because you’ve lost interest.
- Even when you have assistance offered, you find it challenging to relax.
- You get irritable or angry with the person you’re caring for.
- You experience helplessness and despair.
How to Practice Self-Care
Self-care is what you make of it, as it depends on who you are as a person. Taking a relaxing bath, reading a book, or walking can all be considered self-care.
Making yourself a nice meal, or better yet, going out for a nice meal, is self-care. Taking an undisturbed nap, talking to friends, or doing a hobby you like can be self-care.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure to set boundaries and take the time to fully immerse yourself in what makes you feel good.
You’re in Good HandsYour family is in good hands with All American Assisted Living at Londonderry. Arrange a visit to meet the All American Assisted Living team and learn more about the community and our respite care options—to help give you a break. With first-rate amenities, programs, and supportive staff and caregivers, residents feel cared for and at ease, and their families can rest assured.