Here’s How You Can Avoid Burnout and Exhaustion as a Caregiver
Caregivers do themselves more harm than good when they push themselves too hard. You've only got one life, and it's probably a disservice to the individual you're tending to that you don't care enough for yourself.
Caregiving is charitable, yet the physical demands can exhaust and overwhelm even the hardiest individual. It gets worse when you realize there's too little you can do to control the situation. Thankfully, there are proven tips to help you manage the stress of caregiving and restore hope, joy, and an overall sense of balance.
Defining Caregiver Burnout
In case you weren’t aware, there are rich rewards for caring for a loved one. By the same measure, be aware that there are plenty of stressors involved. Caregiving is no sprint. It’s a full-fledged marathon where only the fittest have any chance of survival. The emotional effects increase exponentially, saddling you with years or decades of caregiving responsibilities.
Imagine that scenario where there's next to zero hope that your family member will win this battle. It's almost impossible to detach from this grim reality. Your best efforts could appear to pale in significance.
First Steps to Caregiver Wholeness
It's crucial to learn to identify the symptoms of caregiver stress and burnout. It'll help you take relevant action to keep the situation from spiraling out of control. Once you can do this, you make it easier to improve the situation and work towards recovery for the loved one you're caring for.
The more common signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout include:
Continual lethargy and weakness
Contant exhaustion, even after sleep or a break
Difficulty in relaxing, even with available help
Extreme feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
Increasing irritability and impatience with the care recipient
Neglecting your own needs for extended periods
Your health suffers a lot, and you're susceptible to colds and flu
You’re overwhelmed with caregiving, but have little satisfaction
Accompanying stress symptoms may include an increasing feeling of resentment, neglect of responsibilities, and withdrawal from leisure activities.
Concrete Steps to Avoid Burnout and Exhaustion
Knowing what you’ve learned about caregiver burnout, the following are broad tips to help you avoid caregiver burnout:
#1 Avoid caregiver burnout by feeling empowered
Once you feel powerless, you've held the door open to depression and burnout. It's an easy trap for the caregiver. Never accept that you're powerless because you're not. Practice acceptance by focusing only on what you can change. Your thoughts are important in this process, and that’s one benefit of using meditation apps such as Headspace – to rein in negative thoughts which deprive you of power.
#2 Find a way to obtain the appreciation your efforts deserve
Appreciation improves the physical and emotional health of the caregiver. Don’t dwell on the recipient’s ability to applaud your efforts. Be your own cheerleader, and talk to a supportive family member or friend.
#3 Ask for caregiving help
Listen up: caregiving is demanding. Trying to shoulder all the responsibilities alone will hurt you eventually. Take vital breaks by enlisting friends and family to run errands and handle critical tasks. Don’t turn down those who offer to help you. Always delegate.
Can you also help the care recipient? You can. Even if it’s a child, there are meditation apps for kids. They’ll even enjoy music meditation techniques because it gives them an opportunity to bring some rhythm to the process.
#4 Take a break when you need one
No machine works efficiently all the time, without downtimes for maintenance. Breaks help you regain energy and to refocus. Maximize your personal relationships, share your feelings, partake in whatever brings you enjoyment, and pamper yourself. Laughter is the best medicine, so find activities that make you see the lighter side of life.
#5 Take care of your health
Eat what you should eat when you need to. If your health fails, you’ll be ineffective at caregiving. Exercise regularly, employ relaxation techniques, eat well, and get good sleep. Meditation practice, such as deep breathing, will go a long way to keep you in top shape.
#6 Participate in a caregiver support group
How about linking up with those who understand your current experiences. There are local and online support groups where you talk about your problems and listen to others talk about theirs. You’ll get help and offer it in return. On the whole, it’s an empowering process.
The stress of caregiving can impact your physical health, mental fitness, and relationships. The ultimate end is burnout, defining a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. Both you and the one you’re caring for would suffer untold hardships. Installing meditation apps and using them offers benefits that help you rise above and maintain some level of positivity even in your dire moments.
When you care for you, you’re doing what’s necessary to cultivate your entire well-being. It puts you in the best shape to help the care recipient take vital steps towards recovery.