Written by: Rea Dunlavy, Family Community Liasion, The Pathway School
Being a caregiver can be tough at times. You may identify within yourself that you’re feeling tired and burnout from caring for your loved one. Below we have listed 4 ways to help assist you in preventing caregiver burnout.
1) Resist the urge to withdraw
Over time, many caregivers begin to withdraw from their loved ones when the mental and physical demands of family caregiving become more and more extreme. However, it’s critical to remember that friends and family are potential supports when it comes to coping with the emotional tolls of caregiver burnout. Being social is vital even during high-stress times and there is no shame in leaning on those close to you.
Though being around friends and family is a must, sometimes only other caregivers can truly understand and help you deal with the symptoms of caregiver burnout. If no one in your existing social circle has experience with caregiving, consider connecting with a caregiver support group.
2) Be realistic and fair with yourself
The setting of realistic goals is crucial in order to prevent burnout. Your own happiness is a function of expectation, so know what to expect.
Being a parent/special needs parent is a full-time job, and just like anybody else who works long hours, sometimes you need a vacation to regain your energy after burnout. Look into local respite care services and find a replacement for yourself. Go to a fall sporting event, take a day trip to the countryside, and find some time to reset so you can come back rested and be the best you can be.
3) Pay attention to your mental health
You should immediately seek help from a mental health professional as depression is a common indicator of burnout.It’s nearly impossible to avoid stress and anxiety about your children. There are certain types of yoga classes that focus on calming mental practices, and meditation has been found to be extremely helpful as well. Improved quality of sleep, faster recovery from stress, and stronger immunity are just a few of the many benefits of caregiving meditation. If you’ve never tried to meditate before, download one of the many popular mediation apps like Headspace and Mindfulness. They are easy to use and can be a great way to prepare yourself for a demanding day or wind down from a stressful one.
One of the emotional tolls associated with burnout is sudden shifts in emotion. In order to prevent burnout, be aware of the possibility of displaced anger or emotion. Are you angry about the fact your spouse left dishes out, or are you taking out your completely understandable frustrations of your caregiving day on your partner’s small mistake? Acknowledging your feelings will help keep your other relationships and interactions as healthy as possible.
4) Make a point to reflect and self-assess
Being a parent is hard work, both emotionally and physically. Because of this, it’s important to know your limits and take the necessary steps to manage the stress and anxiety that come with the job.