10 Ways to Avoid Caregiver Burnout

Image by num-skyman, from freedigitalphotos.net

Image by num-skyman, from freedigitalphotos.net

In order to be your best when caring for an elderly loved one or a patient, you need to ensure that your needs are also taken care of. The job of a caregiver can be exhausting even if you have help and if you aren’t well-rested and well-nourished both physically and emotionally, you could end up with burnout, illness, emotional stress or depression. This isn’t good for anyone.

Start of 2016 with a commitment to yourself!

Here are 10 ways to ensure that you stay emotionally and physically healthy to avoid caregiver burnout.

1. Take Care of Your Health: After running around between doctor’s appointments and pharmacies for your patient, the last thing on your mind is scheduling your annual checkup.  Make sure that you make your own health and medical needs a priority.

2. Eat Healthy: Eating the right foods will give you more energy and keep your mind and body nourished with the nutrients they need to function at their best and keep illness at bay.

3. Get Enough Sleep: Your body needs rest in order to rejuvenate, fight illness and stay alert. Try to get an average of 8 hours of sleep a night.

4. Exercise: Regular exercise keeps your body strong and fit, fights off disease and releases endorphins to help keep your mood positive as well.  Try to fit in at least 30 minutes of exercise three times a week.

5. Nurture Yourself: Whether it is a warm bath, a tall glass of wine, a dinner with your spouse or a 30-minute massage, it’s important to make time for the things that make you feel special. You deserve it!

6. Get Support: The song is true – a little help from your friends can really help you get by. Whether you participate in a local caregiver support group, see a therapist to vent your frustrations or reach out to friends and family, knowing that you are not alone is an incredibly powerful antidote against burnout.  Speaking to others in the same boat can also help generate new ideas and coping strategies.

7. Relax: It’s important to pay attention to the cues of stress building up in your body. Make it a habit to regularly relax your mind and muscles by focusing on deep breathes, loosening muscle tension and clearing your mind.

8. Find an Interest or Hobby: Focusing on something that you love will take your mind off the stress of caregiving and given you energy and inspiration.

9. Take Breaks: Schedule regular days off and periodic vacations to revive yourself and give yourself a chance to unwind.  

10. Stay Positive: Focus on the good throughout your day. Start a gratitude list to read each morning to start your day off being grateful for what you have.

It can be hard work to keep your mind and body healthy and happy, but making yourself and your health a priority is the best way you can really care for your patient.