Taking care of someone may seem easy, but it’s a tough job. It doesn’t matter if you are doing it as a job or you are at home caring for a loved one. However, looking out for your family can be more of a burden that one might think. There is additional pressure, money issues and other conflicts that arise when you are a caregiver. Over time, any caregiver who doesn’t look after themselves can face burnout.
Burnout is often overlooked, but it’s a condition where you can experience stages of being tired, irritable, stressed, and even socially isolated. It’s natural to have stress hormones, such as cortisol, when your body undergoes high pressure situations.
If you’re a caregiver who is stressed, it can be hard to focus on giving your patient or loved one quality care. This could cause a bad situation where you lash out at them or argue. This is why it is important for caregivers to take time off and relax if they begin to feel any symptoms of burnout.
Here are some ways that you can manage burnouts.
Tip 1: Be Kind to Yourself
Once you start to notice the symptoms of burnout, take it as a sign you need a break from work. It is best to go easy on yourself.
This stage is crucial to avoid putting yourself under more pressure. If you treat yourself with kindness, it will build the habit of balanced living. Give yourself credit for the hard work you do every day. You can start by thanking yourself when you overcome a struggle.
Be proud of yourself for the times you’ve made it through struggles. Be grateful for everything in life and just breathe.
Tip 2: Find Ways to Relax
There are a variety of things you can do to help relax. You can try meditation or yoga to relieve anxiety and tension on your body. Yoga has been shown to help families that have loved ones diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or cancer. If you don’t know how to do yoga. Check out videos online that offer free yoga instructors you can learn from.
Mindful meditation and deep relaxation exercises can also help you with stress levels. You can also ask your doctor for resources to help manage your stress.
Tip 3: Stay Connected
Go out with friends. Join a book club. Go to church. Get out of the house to step away from taking care of others for a while. We know it can be hard to take the time out of hectic caregiving schedule, but it is good to step away for your mind. It is good for you to connect with people, other than those you are caring for.
Tip 4: Talk
If you are struggling with burnout, talk to your loved ones about the problems that you are having. You are not alone. There are organizations and support groups that offer help to caregivers.
Talk to your doctor. Make sure your doctor knows that you have the added stress of being a caregiver. Your doctor can help you watch for the physical and mental signs of burnout. They can help take care of you while you take care of others.
Tip 5: Get Help
Nobody is a superhero. Taking care of a loved one is hard. It can take a toll on you physically and mentally, and you shouldn’t feel bad if you need to ask for help.
Look for resources like home health care or private duty services to assist. They can help with simple things like housekeeping chores, bathing, meal preparation, and getting medications sorted. They can also provide in home health services like physical therapy, wound care, catheter care, tube feedings, or other chronic disease management needs.
Start With Your Doctor
What it boils down to is that as a caregiver you need to make sure you are at your best to care for your loved one. Take care of yourself and seek help whenever and wherever you can. If you are feeling burnt out or you need to connect with resources, your NMC Health family medicine doctor is here to help you.