Self-care has become a hot topic of conversation recently, as it seems people are finding it more and more difficult to manage daily stress.
Being a caregiver can be a time consuming and challenging endeavor, especially for family caregivers that are trying to juggle caring for an aging loved one and their own lives and responsibilities.
Chronic stress can have a damaging affect on both physical and mental health, and if not properly managed can result in a variety of health conditions.
Family caregivers that do not have any support or assistance to give them regular breaks and time to take care of themselves, can eventually fall victim to caregiver burnout.
What is Caregiver Burnout?
Caregiver burnout is a condition that refers to a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion. This state of exhaustion can occur because of caregivers trying to take on more than they can handle, or possibly they are feeling overwhelmed, underappreciated, and unsupported.
Whatever the cause of caregiver burnout, it is no good for the health of the caregiver or the individual they are providing care for.
Caregivers can avoid burnout by engaging in healthy lifestyle practices, and making sure there is a support system in place to help share the responsibility.
How can Caregivers practice Self-Care?
One of the greatest contributing factors to caregiver burnout is guilt. Family caregivers may start to feel guilty if they feel they could be doing more, and then end up taking on too much.
Caregivers often feel guilty about making time for themselves because they believe they are depriving a loved one of needed care and support.
However, without caregivers taking a step back and getting a much needed break, the home care situation can quickly deteriorate.
Some useful ways caregivers can practice self-care, may be:
- Schedule time for yourself
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Stay social
- Respite care
Schedule Time for Yourself
Instead of just saying to yourself, “Oh yes, I’ll make time for myself eventually”, you can actively schedule time on your calendar for your own free time.
This free time could be for engaging in your favorite hobbies, catching up on things you have been neglecting, or just taking a rest.
Once you get into the routine of setting aside some time for yourself, it will become a part of your regular schedule, making it less likely for you to ignore it.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
The more nutritious your diet, the more energy you will have, and the less you will have to worry about developing your own health conditions.
When you are always in a hurry, it can be easy to eat unhealthy food that is quick to prepare, even though it offers no nutritional value.
Try to avoid processed and fried foods that are high sugar and unsaturated fat as much as possible. Anything that contains trans fat should be avoided entirely.
Some good foods to target are fruit, vegetables, quality fish and poultry, whole grains, and nuts.
Getting regular exercise is just as important as eating well. People that exercise consistently and eat well tend to have more strength and energy for getting things done.
Even just an hour of light exercise a day can really help boost physical health and attitude.
Activities like yoga, tai chi, meditation, and things of this nature are excellent for the health of the body and the mind.
If you are getting regular exercise, you also want to make sure you are getting enough quality sleep for proper recovery.
Providing regular care for a loved one can really cut into your social time if you let it. However, social interaction is also critical to overall health and wellbeing.
This is another good activity to make time for on your weekly schedule. Getting out to see some friends and share some laughs can be a huge stress relief.
Making time for fun social events can have a positive impact on the social relationship with the person you are caring for, to help avoid feelings of resentment.
If you feel like there are just not enough hours in the day to handle all your responsibilities, and also provide adequate care for an elderly family member, then respite care services are available.
Respite care services offer family caregivers some relief whenever it is needed. These services are incredibly helpful because they give you a worry-free break, knowing your loved one is not alone, so you can truly enjoy your free time.
Respite caregivers offer social interaction and companionship, while also helping with daily tasks and focusing on improved health.