5 Ways to Prevent Caregiver Burnout

Last Updated: 19 Mar 2019

Caring for a loved one can sometimes lead to high stress, exhaustion and being overwhelmed, what is commonly known as caregiver burnout; here’s how to help:

Know the signs

Burnout can come on slowly. It can start showing up as apathy, depression, irritability, sleeplessness, appetite changes, lack of personal care, and difficulty dealing with stressful situations. It can also present as immune dysfunction and more frequent colds. Maybe you start having a glass or two of alcohol to unwind at the end of the day.

Set realistic expectations

First, it’s important we realize that negative emotions when caring for another are normal. There will be frustration, resentment, anger and then feelings of guilt for feeling those emotions. Understand everyone experiences these things and it does not make you an uncaring support partner. Then, take some time to figure out what goals can realistically be accomplished, given all that you have on your plate. Go easy on yourself if you don’t get your to-do list completed—this is also normal for all caregivers. We’re all human!

Pay attention to your physical needs

While this is not an easy task, it’s an important one. We have to take the time to move our body, ideally outdoors in the fresh air. The more we can get our endorphins flowing, the better. We also need to be strict about our sleep. This could mean leaving some chores unfinished so you get to bed at the same time every night. Experts suggest waking up on a consistent time, on weekends as well.

Take time for yourself

Carve out time to re-set and re-charge. This will vary with each individual; it may mean five minutes of mindfulness breathing for some and reading for an hour for others. Many have found that doing something creative helps with a more positive mental state. This can include journaling, doodling or painting. Some studies suggest practicing loving-kindness meditation helps keep feelings of empathy powerful.

Talk to others

This can be either confiding in a good friend or family member about what you’re feeling, finding a professional therapist, or joining a support group for other caregivers who know just what you’re dealing with on a daily basis. If going to meetings seems daunting, or there isn’t one close to where you live, finding others on caregiver forums can be extremely helpful.

  1. My hubby has bp but has never owned it he’s very agitated now and our money is messed up and I am very stressed out. I feel overwhelmed and struggling with it all. He’s very agitated now

  2. Recently, I’m shouldering caregiver responsibility of MIL at her home post surgery in April/returned home from Rehab in late June. I also had surgery in late May (first surgery last December) and have other chronic health issues (including psych) to keep balance of, administer meds to, and keep track of various appointments so it wont interfer with her home health sessions throughout the week.

    I’m losing track of my days. I’m stressed out, negative attitudes and sky high BP readings.
    I’m slowly trying to get hubby to shoulder part of the responsibility by staying at home with his mom sometimes while I’m out to go to my M.D. appointments. I need short time respite away from mom, but my hubby doesn’t understand.

    I’m afraid that I’ll crash and burn…still struggling with sleep as pain wakes me up, sleeping in a recliner since thanksgiving last year due to my rotator cuff, now post fusion surgery. Trying to fit in my needed medical care (including bone stimulator therapy 4 hrs daily).

    Hubby and a church member provides transportation to appointments. While I’m on pain meds, I don’t drive and only for short trips.

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