Tips to Prevent Caregiver Stress and Burnout

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
05/01/15  11:03 PM PST
Prevent Caregiver Stress

Caregiving can be a rewarding but demanding way of life. Sometimes it’s easy for the caregiver to put aside their needs in the process of caring for a loved one or a patient. Without making the time to rest, relax and rejuvenate, the many stresses of caregiving can build up to a point where it’s difficult to do anything–let alone care for another. Making the time to attend to your own physical and mental health is just as important as making sure your loved one takes her medication or gets to his appointment on time. Self-care plays a big role in avoiding burnout.

What is Burnout?

Burnout is a term used to describe exhaustion and lack of interest in work or responsibility as a result of chronic stress.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Burnout?

Some signs and symptoms of burnout are:

  • Anxiety, depression, and/or irritability
  • Feeling tired even after resting
  • Cutting back on leisure activities
  • Increased feeling of resentment
  • New or worsening health problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Neglecting other responsibilities

How Can I Prevent or Remedy Burnout?

Give yourself time to relax daily: Schedule at least 30 minutes a day to do some­thing relaxing and rejuvenating for you. This could be anything from sitting on the couch reading a book to taking a walk or watching a favorite show. If 30 minutes isn’t possible, start with 5 minutes and go from there. Just taking 5 minutes to make yourself a cup of coffee or tea in the morning is an important way to care for yourself and prioritize your needs. You deserve to be cared for as much as your loved one or patient.

Accept offered help: When friends or family members offer to help in any way, ac­cept their offer and give them something easy to do. Even a small task can lighten your load.

Find meaning: It’s important to have other activities to turn to that are meaningful to you. Try meditation, join a club, find a new hobby, pick up an old hobby, or try anything that you feel drawn to.

Accept your feelings and talk about them: Sometimes we resist our feelings be­cause we feel guilty about having a certain emotion or feeling a certain way. Instead of feeling guilty about your emotions, accept that caregiving is difficult and that you are human. Acknowledge your feelings and talk to a trusted friend, family member, or counselor about them. Talking can be energizing and a very effective way to release stress.

Make time to stay healthy: To take best care of your loved one, you have to make sure you are mentally and physically healthy. Eating nutritious meals, getting enough sleep, seeing a doctor regularly and exercising are all a part of maintaining your health. Even a small amount of exercise can give you a boost of feel-good hormones!

Grow your support network: Having a strong support network to fall back on is useful and can bring peace of mind. Grow your support network by becoming a member of a support group, joining an advocacy group, or participating in a social group for caregivers (it’s good to know you’re not alone). For those unable to travel, online caregiver groups can also provide relief and support.

Have a social outlet and don’t stop doing things you enjoy: Don’t give up activities that are important to you. Find a way to incorporate them into your life. It is important to build and keep connections with other people who can bring joy into your life.

Take advantage of resources: Some communities offer care services, adult day care, or homecare. Research resources in your area and take advantage of these services so you can rest and recharge yourself.

Watch for signs of depression and anxiety: If you see signs of depression or anxiety develop­ing in your daily routine, talk to a friend, loved one, and/or counselor.

For more information, see related articles and resources here:

Recent Caregivers

1 comment

  1. Not changing your lifestyle completely, but modifying it, so that you still have time to enjoy the things you have always enjoyed ( Like once a month outing with best friends ) I believe giving up on anything that were normal before you became a caregiver, is like giving up on yourself! Giving up on yourself is the end point and you will miss the true reward of accepting the caregiver role in the first place

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