Perhaps one of the most important tasks you can have as a caregiver is knowing how to care for yourself first. When caring for one who cannot care for themselves, especially if that person is a loved one, it’s easy to overlook your own health. If this trend continues it can lead to caregiver burnout.
Common symptoms of caregiver burnout (according to Vistas.com):
- Lack of energy
- Overwhelming fatigue
- Sleep problems (too much or too little)
- Changes in eating habits; weight loss or gain
- A feeling of hopelessness
- Withdrawing from, or losing interest in, activities you once enjoyed
- Neglecting your own physical and emotional needs
- Feeling like caregiving is controlling your life
- Becoming unusually impatient, irritable or argumentative with the person you’re caring for and/or with others
- Anxiety about the future
- Depression or mood swings
- Difficulty coping with everyday things
- Headaches, stomachaches, and other physical problems
- Lowered resistance to illness
Steps to take to avoid caregiver burnout:
Recognize the Need
Sometimes it might feel selfish to take time to yourself. But the first step to avoiding caregiver burnout is to recognize that you need to take care of yourself as well. Realizing this need for self-care and accepting it will help you be a better caregiver in the long run.
Figure Out What You Need.
There are many things proven to help caregivers avoid caregiver burnout. The real question is what do YOU need in order to care for yourself? Ask yourself this and you can focus on the activities that make you the happiest.
Talk to Someone
Talking to someone else about your situation can be a great source of stress relief. This person you vent to can be a family member, friend, or anyone you would feel comfortable sharing this with. In addition to the people around you, there are many caregiver support groups out there that can be a great outlet for you to talk with people in similar situations. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if needed.
Take Time to Yourself
Reach out to a fellow friend or family member and ask them if they have time to care for your loved one for a couple hours or even a whole day so you can take some time to yourself. This plan works great with a schedule. Plan for a weekly outing or “day off” so that you have consistent time for yourself. Get your nails done, go to the spa, tackle that errand list, catch a sports game with your friends, binge watch your favorite show, whatever relaxation looks like to you! Don’t feel guilty doing that one activity that makes you the happiest.
Keep Up With Your Own Health
It’s an all too common occurrence that caregivers miss out on their own appointments, get limited sleep and lose sight of their personal diet and exercise regimens. It’s important to take time for yourself to look out for your own health. Eat healthful foods, maintain a healthy exercise routine, and visit doctors for your own appointments!
Being a caregiver is hard. It’s important to recognize the signs of caregiver burnout and take steps to take care for your own health. Being an advocate for yourself will, in the long run, lead you to be a better caregiver.
At Loretto, we’re here to help you and your loved ones. If you have questions comments or concerns associated with caregiver burnout, please don’t hesitate to reach out. With 19 specialized programs and facilities and 2,500 hundred dedicated caregivers, we are dedicated to providing quality care to the Central New York Community. We proudly serve over 10,000 individuals annually with a system of care that addresses the unique needs of every individual. Looking for more information on care for you and your loved one? Visit our Choosing Your Care page, or feel free to contact us!