Avoiding Caregiver Burnout: Helping Yourself
t’s important to take the time out to help and care for those you love, what is done in love is done well. It can put life on hold, may interfere with a job, or take you away from home – but that’s the unpredictable nature of life. As caregiver, you might find yourself relocating for an extended stay to an unfamiliar neighborhood, a different city or even another country.
Looking after someone during a serious illness can be rewarding. It can also be demanding and exhausting work, physically and emotionally. Caregivers can commonly experience caregiver burnout. Looking after yourself is important, not only for your own sake. To provide the best care you can to the person you are caring for you have to stay strong yourself.
Demands on caregivers can increase during a serious illness. Therefore it’s vital to ensure that your needs, as well as those of the ill person, are met with compassion and clarity. Taking on the role as a caregiver is a huge responsibility. It can be one of the most important roles you will take on in your life. Sometimes it’s hard to allow yourself to have a break when you want to stay strong for someone else. But you’re only human. Be kind to yourself and take our suggestions to heart on how to avoid caregiver burnout when taking care of others.
Having a comfortable home base is key. When caring for someone you may be uprooted to another location for an indeterminate period of time. Rather than a hotel stay, or committing to a long term lease, you could stay in a month-to-month rental. Having the privacy of your own apartment with the flexibility to decide on the length of stay is an ideal solution for temporary caregiver accommodation.
Blueground often accommodates guests who are on extended stays to give support or care. In these instances, a fully furnished rental to turn up and start living in straight away eases the transition into caregiving. With everything provided from kitchenware to bed linens and towels, the rentals are also connected with WiFi on arrival. Many of Blueground’s furnished apartments are near downtown hospitals in case you need to stay in a new city during prolonged medical treatment. When home surroundings are taken care of, you’re free to focus on the role of looking after someone else.
Be mindful of how your sleep patterns are being affected as a caregiver. Not getting enough sleep is a major cause of stress and caregiver burnout. Regular sleep will help you stay focused and regulate your mood. Being woken frequently during the night will leave you tired during the day or unable to sleep at night. It can be challenging to stick to a regular sleep routine when circumstances are exceptional, but do try to rest, take naps and make the most of the opportunity to sleep when it arises. Sleep hygiene provides rituals and behaviors to practice that help achieve a higher-quality, more restful sleep.
Take control of the situation by being organized and prepared. This includes keeping an up-to date calendar with appointments and check-ups, a list of key contacts and information on medications. Keep a digital calendar, a paper diary and set reminders for appointments and medication times. You may want to designate specific areas for storing medications and important documents. Remember to check if you are running low on medications so you’re not rushing to get another prescription last minute. Familiarize yourself with what to do in case of an emergency and where the nearest hospitals are located. Stay informed on the condition of the person you are caring for by speaking regularly with doctors and medical staff. Ask questions on anything you are unclear on or worried about. If you are administering medications and treatments yourself it’s important to sanitize your hands and be fully aware of what procedures to follow. If the person you are caring for has specific nutrition needs keep a record of dietary requirements. Stock up on fresh, healthy food at home. Also make sure to eat regular meals and keep yourself hydrated.
You don’t have to “do it all” yourself. Hiring help at home can lighten the burden of keeping on top of homecare and caregiving. It can give you some support. This could be hired help for cleaning or getting meals delivered that frees up more time for you to give care directly. You may spend most of your time every day caring for a friend or family member. Hiring help for a few hours day-to-day assisting with caregiving can give you some space to recharge. If you’re caregiving at home, it’s important to consider anyone you may hire carefully to make sure you and the person requiring care feel it’s a good match. It’s especially important to have this peace of mind if hiring someone to provide overnight care. Or stand in for you when you are taking some respite. The trust has to be there. There are also many charities who offer support and assistance with care if finances are stretched.
There are some practical ways to pack for hospital visits or stays. Sometimes you may end up spending long periods of time or overnight stays. As well as always having a hospital bag ready to go for person your caring for, remember one for yourself. Keep a file with medical documents and notes with you at all times. Handy hospital essentials include wipes, hand sanitizer, chargers, a change of clothes, toiletries and healthy snacks. A travel pillow and blanket may come in handy if you’re staying bedside. You may want to take some books or download some podcasts or playlists on your phone to listen to on airplane mode.
There are a number of actions you can take to handle stress. The game plan is to have a tool kit of strategies at hand to manage stress before it boils over. Starting to practice meditation, yoga or other relaxation techniques like EFT tapping can be life-changing. Taking regular exercise, whether it be a brisk walk, a quick class or a workout at home, will provide an energy and mood-boost. Journaling has also been proven be an effective stress reliever and exercise to clarify and rationalize thoughts. Take time to yourself, even if it’s watching an episode of your favorite sitcom, or pampering yourself in the shower. Make sure you also have some daily social contact. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, speak to your doctor. Build your own support team. Involve friends, relatives, and social support networks.
Day to day as a caregiver you might be so busy you don’t have time to socialize or speak to friends. You may become isolated and disconnected from ‘regular’ life as you knew it. Taking a respite break is an opportunity to reconnect and combat loneliness. It can seem like everyone else is busy getting on with life. That your own life and that of the person you are caring for has been put on hold. Do reach out to friends and family and ask for help. You don’t have to make grand plans. It can simply be asking someone over to take care of your laundry, run some errands, or cook a meal for you at home. This can be a good time to take a digital detox, a break from viewing life filtered through the lens of Instagram. Do stay connected to the world outside your caregiving role through texts, calls, email and in person. Often, you may bond with people you meet in a similar situation, a fellow caregiver or patients and families you meet in medical environments. Sometimes the people you tend to rely on are not able to help you in this particular circumstance, perhaps because of their own fears or experiences. Others, unexpectedly, will be there for you. Many people want to help – so let them. You don’t need to repay favors now, or directly to them. You can repay kindness by helping someone, sometime, further down the line.
Cite this Essay
To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below