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
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
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.
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