At some point, while caring for a senior parent or loved one, most caregivers experience a feeling of emotional exhaustion or increased anxiety. These feelings are part of the signs and symptoms associated with caregiver burnout – a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion that’s often accompanied by a change in attitude. To help ward off these feelings, we’ve got five tips that will help you avoid growing weary and keep caregiver burnout at bay.
Talk to others about your emotions
Feeling burned out can evoke feelings of fear, anger, resentment and guilt. Talk to friends or family members to help provide an outlet for negative emotions. If that’s not an option, seeing a counselor or a therapist can be a good alternative.
keep up with other activities
Continuing to participate in activities that you enjoy is important for maintaining a sense of self through the caregiving process. Whether it’s jogging, playing tennis or strolling through a museum, staying active will help stave off depression and give you boosts of much-needed energy through the day.
Give yourself a break
Time off may not seem like a viable option when you’re caring for a parent or loved one, but it’s an integral part of avoiding and recovering from caregiver burnout. Allowing yourself to take a break from the day-to-day care routine is not only necessary, it’s deserved. Find time in your day to do something that you enjoy, such as taking a relaxing bath or treating yourself to a massage. If possible, use respite care and have someone (another friend or family member, or a paid caregiver) to help out a few days a week or on the weekends so that you can have time off to recharge.
Educate yourself on caregiving
Many times, feelings of frustration arise out of feeling ill-equipped to handle caregiver responsibilities. If you are caring for someone with dementia, read up on tips for dementia care. Also, reach out to doctors, physical therapists and other professionals to educate yourself on how to properly provide care. Feeling prepared to handle unexpected caregiver situations can help get rid of negative emotions tied to lack of caregiving knowledge.
Create an active support system
Since many people experience caregiver burnout symptoms at some point, there are many support groups that exist to ease the stress and provide an open ear and emotional support to family caregivers. The National Family Caregivers Association and the Family Caregiver Alliance online support group are excellent resources for finding a reliable support system.
While caregiver burnout is a common state at some point for all family caregivers, it doesn’t have to negatively affect your ability to give care. By taking these preemptive steps, you can ward off caregiver burnout and make the caregiving experience positive for both parties.