How can I reduce my risk of developing Caregiver Burnout?
Are you beginning to experience signs of caregiver burnout? It may not be possible to eliminate caregiver burnout entirely, but it is possible to reduce its impact. Here are some tips on how to increase your personal wellness reserves so you can continue to provide quality, loving care to your dear ones.
Tip #1 - Prioritize your health
This tip can be difficult to implement if you give in to that feeling of guilt that comes up every time your mind thinks that time spent caring for yourself is time spent not caring for the loved one who is in need. Remember, even small changes toward a healthier diet, better sleep, and more exercise can make a big difference in your overall sense of well-being.
Tip #2 - Give yourself grace
Instead of beating yourself up over your perceived shortcomings or inability to do it all, look for ways that you can be kind to yourself and practice self-care. Be honest with yourself and your loved one about your loved one's situation and your own ability to meet their needs. Accepting your limits and shedding some of the unrealistic expectations that you (or others) may have of you might help reduce some of the mental strife that you are experiencing.
Twenty percent of Americans provided unpaid care to an adult with health or functional needs in 2020. - data provided by AARP.
Tip #3 - Build connections
Acknowledging your personal limits may also free you to share and delegate caregiving responsibilities with other members of your community. Look for home help, respite care, or day programs in your area that can help reduce some of your responsibilities. If none of those is available to you, ask friends or family members to support you. Even a break of one to two hours could do wonders for your mental health.
Tip #4 - Build in a Happy Hour
Identify one thing that you can do just for yourself each day. It does not have to be a grand gesture, or a lengthy activity. Even a 5 minute routine, completed every day, can have ripple effects and improve your long-term ability to provide quality care to your loved one. Some people enjoy taking a walk around the block, others prefer to visit their local coffee shop to read the newspaper every morning. For some, it may be as simple as making sure they jump in the shower each night. What will your happy hour?
These tips are a starting point. Give your new routines some time to heal your body and soul. If you continue to have concerns, never hesitate to seek additional support from members of your healthcare team. Personalized talk therapy can do wonders by providing you a non-judgmental space in which to unload your burdens and grieve. Being a caregiver is not easy. You are not alone in this phase of life.