Caring for someone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, is a grueling job. When you’re a caregiver, it’s very easy to lose sight in your own health, since another person’s health is your focus. Caregiver burnout is a real thing and can affect caregivers in an extremely negative way. Knowing how to avoid caregiver burnout will help you be able to continue doing the thing you love – helping care for people that you love.
Obviously, it takes a special kind of person to be a caregiver. When we think of caregivers, we think of modern-day superheroes. They’re able to put all their attention on someone, who without any intention of their own, requires a tremendous amount of attention.
If you aren’t a caregiver, I’m sure you can imagine how easy it is to become burnt out over time. And if you are a caregiver, you probably know first hand how common burnout is. That’s why it is so important to first take care of yourself. That way you are able to care for another person. Here are 14 ways on how to avoid caregiver burnout.
1. Schedule Time for Yourself
Now, we know that it’s extremely difficult for a caregiver to take a vacation. However, you don’t have to go on any fancy trip to take time for yourself. If you can just take a day to be alone or to do something you’ve been wanting to do, schedule it and treat is as sacred as you would a doctor appointment for your patient! You can even have a date night with that special someone.
Nobody can work 24/7 and be okay without every now and again being able to let loose and relax. So if taking an entire day isn’t possible now, start with scheduling even just an hour for yourself and try to increase from there.
2. Don’t Let Your Pride Get in The Way of Accepting Help
Our friends and family are always offering to help us, yet we push them away. Why? Why, when we know we need help, do we not accept their offer to help!
It’s because humans are often to proud to admin when we could use a little help. It’s okay to be independent, but in caregiver situations, the people around often genuinely want to help you with the enormous task that is on your plate. Accepting the help that’s offered could be the one thing that keeps you from suffering from caregiver burnout.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
If no one is offering to help you, it doesn’t mean they don’t care. And just because you’re asking for help, it doesn’t mean you’re any less of a competent and able person. People might also not be offering their help because they think you’ve got in under control. Often this is what caregivers portray to others – that we’ve got it together!
Maybe you do have it all under control. Still, having some help caring for the recipient can in turn help you avoid caregiver burnout.
4. Hire A Backup You
Have you ever said, “Man! I wish I had more hands.”? Or maybe you’ve needed to be in two places at once. Then hire another you.
Preferably someone that could be there right when you need them. Some days are harder than others in the caregiver world and having an extra body to help you could be extremely beneficial. Also, family emergencies happen. If you need to run out the door to get someone, you need to be able to put your care recipient in good hands.
Even more important than that, having a backup is the perfect way to achieving #1. With a spare set of hands, you’ll be able to take time for yourself when you most desperately need it.
5. Meal Prep
Anyone that meal preps will tell you how much time and money it saves them. However, finding the time to cook it all and package it can be difficult. That’s exactly why some people avoid it.
With that said, setting aside some time each week to do it is a game changer. You could find the time by putting the care recipient to sleep early one night each week and using the extra time to cook. Cook all the meals for the week and pop them in the freezer. And voila, you’re set.
Investing in some crock-pot recipes with 5 or less ingredients can save loads of time when meal prepping as well.
6. Self-Reflect on The Good You’re Doing
Depression is one of the top side effects of caregiver burnout. One tiny thing that has a big impact you could do is to remember all the good you’re doing.
You are literally helping someone survive. How amazing is that? Without your help, they might not be able to even get out of bed. Take some time to give yourself a little pep talk each day. When it starts to get tough, say, “I’m bettering someone’s life.”
Go ahead, give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it! Positive self-talk is way underrated.
7. Remember That No Day Will Be Perfect
No matter how hard you try, a day as a caregiver will sometimes never go the way you plan. So, it’s important to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. That way, in the end, you aren’t disappointed when something doesn’t go your way.
Odds are that on some days, something will go wrong, and you’ll want to get upset, or angry, or maybe even panicked. Remind yourself that there is no perfect day.
8. Join A Support Group
Support groups are a great resource for getting the help you need with any difficult thing in life. Having a safety net of friends that will be there when you’re feeling alone is important for caregivers. Let’s face it, life is better with friends. And having friends that personally understand what you’re going through will be a welcome stress-relief for you.
9. Get a Massage
We know, we know, you think I’m crazy for throwing this one in here. We understand that massages can be both time consuming and expensive – but hear us out.
It doesn’t have to be a fancy 80-minute massage with oils infused with gold at the Four Seasons. A simple shoulder rub will do and often you can find quick chair massages at your local nail salon. Massage don’t only feel great, they relieve so much stress that you literally carry on your shoulders. Give yourself 15 minutes a week and see how it resets your stress levels.
10. Designate Quiet Time
If you aren’t able to get away as much as you’d like, designate a special time each day or week for quiet time. This is when you’ll want to read a book or take a nap. Anything that distracts your mind from your already busy day for just 30 minutes.
Quiet time is a good way to achieve relaxation and stress relief, which are two key factors in remaining sane while taking on the caregiver role.
11. Learn Your Care Recipient’s Health Issues Well
The reason you’re a caregiver is because your care recipient needs help day to day. If someone needs help with activities of daily living, it’s usually due to a chronic health issue.
So, learn everything you can about your recipient’s health issues. For instance, if your care recipient has seizures, get some training on what to do when one occurs. This will allow you to be better prepared when something happens, and you need to act fast.
12. Maintain Social Relationships
Maintaining social relationships is a crucial part of avoiding the caregiver burnout. We say this because you need to experience other kinds of relationships other than the one you share with your care recipient. Stay at home moms need social interaction with adults rather than children. Caregivers need social interaction with people other than the person they are caring for.
13. Get Out of The House with Them If Possible
You and your care recipient will appreciate this one! Being cooped up all day, every day in doors isn’t good for anyone. So why would you want to stay inside all the time?
We get it, depending on the circumstances, it can be hard to travel outside of the home with your care recipient. But if it’s possible, do it. Get some vitamin D in your system.
When all else fails, if you can’t get them into the care, just take them out to the porch or backyard.
14. Create a “Before Bed” Ritual to Promote Sleep
This tip can help everyone, not just caregivers. Form a habit you do every evening prior to crawling into bed. A pre-sleep nightly ritual is one that prepares your mind for bed time and helps you begin to relax and calm down. Consider reading a book or downloading a meditation app on your phone. Do this for yourself. Train your body to know when to change gears into sleep mode, and get the rest you’ll need for tomorrow’s caregiving.