Caregiver Connection

Avoid caregiver burnout4 ways to take care of yourself

Caregiving tasks add a lot to your plate, which is likely already full. When that happens, it can feel like you don’t have time to do anything for yourself. No time to prepare a healthy meal, to meditate, to go for a run or a walk, or to read.

But that’s why you need these things the most. Because doing too much is stressful. And too much stress can lead to exhaustion and poor health.

Making time for yourself is a necessary part of being a caregiver. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, caregivers who don’t prioritize downtime are susceptible to burnout.

Yes, it can feel like it’s too hard to take time for yourself. Or that you should be using all your available time to support your loved one.

Taking time to recharge your batteries helps you stay healthy and happy enough to continue your work as a caregiver. It’s like the flight attendant who tells the passengers what to do in case air pressure on the plane drops: put the oxygen mask on yourself first, so you will then be able to help the person by your side.

There are some basic things you can do to ease the stress you feel, and maybe even prevent some of it:

  1. Communicate. Whenever possible, talk to other family members, friends, and coworkers who have taken on the caregiver role. If you don’t know anyone, join a support group in your community or online.

  2. Accept help. Friends and family may have told you to call if you need help. Have you called? If you’re like most caregivers, the answer is no. Don’t wait any longer. Call them. Try these tips for making it easier to ask for help

  3. Socialize. Even if your friends aren’t having similar experiences with caregiving right now, it’s important for you to maintain your connection to them. Let yourself enjoy your time with them.     

  4. Find a therapist. A therapist can help you manage the feelings that go along with seeing a loved one decline. And coach you on the hard task of asking for help.

  5. Exercise. It’s one of the best ways to support your physical and mental health.

The job you’re doing, whether you’ve just started or have been providing care for years, is a tough one. Keep yourself strong by leaning on others for support when you need to. And even when you think you don’t.

Originally posted: June 2017
Last updated: April 2024

Burnout  Self care  Wellness 

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