5 Tips to avoid caregiver burnout! - You Need to Take Care of You!

Feb 28 , 2022

Julie-Anne Dietz

5 Tips to avoid caregiver burnout! - You Need to Take Care of You!

Put on your oxygen mask first! This is one of the first things you will hear when you are sitting in a plane ready to take off.

Why is this an important rule? Because if you run out of oxygen yourself, you can’t help anyone else right?

So why do so many caregivers put themselves and their needs last?

Many caregivers confuse self-care with being selfish. Taking care of ourselves is the opposite of being selfish, it strengthens us and enables us to support our loved ones better. We are no use to anyone if our energy is depleted because we have given every bit of it away. Self-care is an antidote to stress, it builds resilience so we can better cope with challenges.

So just remember, you can absolutely support others, but not if you are not okay first!

Being a caregiver can be a rewarding yet stressful role which is why caregivers are at a high risk of burnout.

Being a caregiver for a child or an elderly parent or another person, who may not even be related to you can be very rewarding. However, due to the demanding and never-ending nature of the role and needs of the person means that caregivers can often be at higher risk of stress, frustration, anxiety, exhaustion, anger, depression and increased use of alcohol or other substances.

Further, many caregivers can be more prone to having a reduced immune response, poor physical health due to lack of sleep and poor eating habits as they neglect their own care according to the Family Caregiver Alliance. https://www.caregiver.org/

One of the best things you can do for the person you are caring for is to take care of yourself.

Easier said than done?

Start with these tips for reducing your chance of burnout!

5 Tips to avoid caregiver burnout!

 

  1. Accept difficult feelings

There is a popular stereotype that caregivers must be loving and self-sacrificing at all times…and if you’re not, then you are doing it wrong! You may even feel shamed or be shamed by others if you voice negative feelings.

Taking care of another human being is incredibly difficult says Dr. Jennifer Wolkin, a clinical neuropsychologist at NYU.

You might feel helpless, sad, lonely, left out, upset or even angry.

Think: These feelings are valid and you shouldn’t feel guilty or ashamed.

TIP: Don’t let negative emotions smoulder. Allow yourself to feel them and talk to someone who can be understanding and compassionate.

 

  1. Make a list of ‘Back-Up’ Carers

No matter how much you love someone, you simply cannot be expected to be their only caregiver.

Think: It’s okay to ask for help

TIP: Make a list of people you can call to come and sit with your loved one or take over some of their care, or take them out for the day so you can get a break. Consider asking friends, siblings, children, extended relatives, neighbours or others to be your backup.

 

  1. Research Community Services

Depending on your situation, you and  / or your loved one may qualify for services from the government, including free community programs, including fitness and educational classes.

Think: I deserve time for my own mental and physical health!

TIP: Use these services and programs to take some pressure off you and free up time and energy for other priorities

 

  1. Be proactive about preventing burnout

It is much easier to prevent burnout before it than to try and cure it once it has happened. It is important to recognise when you are starting to feel overwhelmed.

Think: I need to be aware of the signs of stress and burnout and do something about them before it is too late.

TIP: Half the battle is being proactive and preventing burnout , which is better than needing to recover from it later

 

  1. Practice Self- Care

Taking charge of your physical and mental health is key to preventing caregiver burnout.

Think: What makes me happy? Gift yourself the time to do at least one of these.

TIP: Make enough time for restful sleep, spend time with loved ones…but don’t overdo it – alone time is important too, try to get some physical activity in each day – even if it is just a walk around the block, eat nutritious foods and stay hydrated.

So remember, you don’t have to be in a plane to remember to…Put on YOUR oxygen mask first!