Preventing Caregiver Burnout
You may be thinking “Self-care? Sure, I’ll add it to my to-do list of 9,400 other things to get done today.” But it’s vital you take time for yourself, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
I get it, focusing on personal care is a luxury you can’t afford. But you need to stop thinking about personal care as a luxury and start thinking about it as a necessity. If you don’t take care of yourself, you will end up burning out. Start with baby steps. Take five minutes a day to sit in silence. Go outside, have a coffee, lock yourself in the bathroom, just take five minutes to calm yourself.
Start by making small changes that will turn into lifelong habits.
This may require you to let go of some control, so take your time easing in.
But ideally, this five minutes outside will turn into a thirty-minute walk around the block. Grabbing a coffee could turn into a bite with a friend. Take an hour in the tub instead of those five minutes. You don’t go from no exercise to working out 6 days a week overnight.
Don’t Lose Your Identity
Caregiving takes so much out of a person, it can become your entire life. Don’t allow this to happen. While not all of these may be appropriate or even feasible for you, consider:
- Setting clear boundaries
- Don’t do this alone
- Find a support group
- Keeping your day job
- Give yourself permission to take breaks
- Find clear ways to communicate
- Find community or professional support options
When you’re so focused on caring for someone else, it’s easy to lose yourself in the process. Make sure you’re taking time to do things for you, outside of caregiving. If this means you need help, take advantage of respite care. This could be professionally, or just asking friends and family.