Caregiving is extremely demanding. Very few realize just how stressful it can be until they find themselves in the caregiver role. The stress and exhaustion can become too much, so taking care of yourself should always come first.
How do you know when you are physically and emotionally worn out as a caregiver?
If you experience any of the things listed below, you may be on your way to caregiver burnout:
- Trouble concentrating and you feel irritable over small things
- Feeling tired yet you are unable to sleep
- Feeling resentful toward the one you are responsible for
- Health problems: real and imagined; catch every bug that is going around
- Unable to relax yet you have no energy
- Neglect your own needs, not just because you are busy but because you just don’t care anymore
- Feeling hopeless and unable to do your job
What can you do to improve your situation?
- Focus on what you can control, it will help you to feel less powerless
- Realize that your loved one, even though they are unable to show their appreciation, really are extremely grateful for your help
- If you are looking after a family member, ask for support from the rest of the family, even if it is just to deliver groceries or take care of a medical appointment once a month
- Try not to control every minute of your loved one’s care; if they are able to do anything at all themselves, let them do it
- Give yourself permission to take breaks and spend that time doing something you enjoy, it will give you renewed energy
- Find ways to relieve stress by pampering yourself, even if it is just to buy fresh flowers every week
- Don’t let go of your personal relationships, they will keep you going in times of stress
- Get out of the house occasionally, go for walks or visit friends
- Exercise, it will help you feel better by releasing stress and providing needed energy
- Try meditation or yoga; both are great stress relievers and improve your well-being
- Don’t miss your medical appointments; you can’t be a good caregiver if you aren’t taking care of yourself
- Eat well; ensure that your diet is full of nourishing foods and cut down on sugar as much as possible. Fill your plate with fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans and healthy fats.
- If you have trouble sleeping, try sleep aids such as white noise or a CD with relaxing music
There are many support groups available for caregivers. Find one in your area or look online for an internet forum. These groups can boost your morale when it is low, help you obtain more information about caregiving and lead to new friendships. Here are two on line caregiving forums that SLM is familiar with to get you started www.caregiving.com and www.caregivingmatters.ca