Caregivers are selfless people who provide unpaid care to loved ones by giving their time, energy, and loving support to help with daily tasks and medical needs. At times, it can feel like an exhausting, endless circle without a break in sight.
Self-care is critical to a caregiver’s mental health and wellbeing. Aside from the obvious benefits to caring for your personal mental and physical health, the higher your own happiness quotient, the better caregiver you’ll be. That’s why it’s important to make time for yourself before you get to full burnout phase.
8 Ways to Avoid Caregiver Burnout
Here are eight feel-good ways to potentially alleviate stress and take care of you:
- Stay socially engaged. Sometimes it feels easier to just fall into a boring routine at home, but a change of scenery and time away from home can do wonders for the soul. Commit to one day a week with your spouse or meet up with a friend to enjoy lunch or dinner out, catch a movie, or spend time at the park, a museum, or other relaxing outing.
- Listen to fun music. Go dancing — or have an at-home dance party. Turn up the music and have a ball. Dancing is a great stress reliever and listening to your favorite music will instantly put you in a better mood.
- Take a trip somewhere. Getting away is not an easy feat, but it’s important to explore new horizons every now and then. Make travel a priority and take time away to clear your mind. A vacation adventure can be as simple as an overnight somewhere different – camping in the backyard, or a hotel in the nearest city.
- Get physical. Sign up for a gym membership, take a yoga class, join a running or hiking club, or meet up with neighbors or friends for a brisk walk every day. Whether it’s intense physical activity or something more focused on mind/body balance, exercise of any kind is a proven stress-buster.
- See a therapist. Caring for others can feel lonely and isolating. It can also weigh heavy on your own mental health. Talking to a professional can help. Find a therapist you feel comfortable with, and be open with them about your thoughts and feelings. Learn coping mechanisms for common symptoms felt by overextended caregivers such as: sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, and the overwhelming feeling that things are beyond your control.
- Pick up a hobby. Carve out some time that is just for you doing something that you love. Whether is hiking, painting, cooking, knitting, anything will do as long as you are enjoying yourself.
- Spring for a spa treatment. Often in a family, the caregiver role can fall to one person. If you feel like you’re doing the heavy lifting in your family, don’t be afraid to let them know when you’re feeling overwhelmed and need a break. A facial or a massage is a great way to clear your mind. You’ll leave feeling pampered, relaxed, and rejuvenated.
- Seek Professional Help. It is okay, and often beneficial, to seek this support for both yourself and your senior loved one. Home Care services can provide respite for caregivers and senior living communities can provide stable environments for seniors with higher care needs or those that desire a sense of community or access to amenities that may not be available in their current setting. A Place for Mom’s expert advisors help caregivers and their families find the right senior living options for their aging loved ones through personalized referrals, tour scheduling and move-in support.
Remember: You are more than just your responsibilities. Avoiding burnout starts with reprioritizing your to-dos and building a good support network. You have your own needs and self-care is the best way to be sure those needs are met.
Working toward the goal of living a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life will help you to become the best caregiver you can be for others — and that is the greatest gift of all.