How Can You Overcome Caregiver Burnout?
The world needs caregivers—where would we be without them? Here at GoFundMe, we are so thankful for caregivers and the hard work that they do for people all over the world. But that said, can take a huge toll on your physical and mental well-being. Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion—and that can have a very big impact on your well-being. As a caregiver, it’s crucial for you to address your stress and find healthy ways to cope with your burnout so that you can best take care of the others who depend on you each and every day.
What causes caregiver burnout?
According to a 2015 report on Caregiving in the U.S., personal caregivers can spend about 24-44 hours a week caring for someone in their lives. Unfortunately, 22% percent of caregivers also reported their health worsening as a result of caregiving. According to the study done by Caregiving.org, one in five caregivers have reported physical strain resulting from caregiving, while two in five report caregiving to be emotionally stressful as well. If you experience any of the following symptoms, it may be time to check in with yourself and to address the burnout you’re feeling:
- Lack of energy
- Anxiety, depression, irritability
- Feeling resentful
- Loss of interest in leisurely activities
- Increase in drinking, smoking, and/or eating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Becoming increasingly impatient and irritable with the person you’re caring for
- Withdrawing from friends, family, and loved ones
Six tips for overcoming caregiver burnout and relieving stress
When caregivers become so invested in caring for others, it can be easy for them to neglect their own health and mental well-being. Many caregivers go into the experience with compassion and empathy for those who they are helping without knowing the toll it can take on their emotional and physical health. To help caregivers overcome the stress that comes with this role, we’ve put together six tips that caregivers can use to ensure they’re staying healthy while helping others.
1. Make organization your friend
When your day-to-day responsibilities start to feel overwhelming, one of the best things you can do is to organize your tasks. Sorting your priorities can provide an instant relief from anxiety and stress brought on by simply having too much to do. Buy a planner or make a simple to-do list that you can easily reference. Set personal health goals for yourself, like getting to bed at a certain time, or trying out a new yoga class. Sometimes, just knowing that your list is there for you to reference at any time can ease any potential stress from coming on.
2. Change your mindset
Being a caregiver can be physically taxing, but it can be particularly straining on your mental health too. Seeing a loved one suffer is hard. Taking care of them on top of that can be extremely taxing. It’s important to take the time to pause and reflect on how much you’ve done for someone else. Remember that the work you do is something to be proud of.
If you’re ever feeling discouraged, focus on these three practices:
- Acceptance: Accepting the circumstances that are out of your control is the first step toward changing them for the better.
- Gratitude: Proven to help reduce caregiver stress, gratitude can help change your perspective on any challenge you’re facing. Try journaling every morning when you wake up or every evening before bed, and write down at least three things you’re grateful for on that particular day. Doing so will end your day on the right note.
- Meditation: Many studies have found that practicing meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety. One particular study revealed that meditation-related anxiety relief is associated with activating areas of the brain involved in executive functions, like paying attention, organization and planning, starting and completing tasks, and regulating emotions.
3. Find financial help
National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP found that about one in five caregivers reports experiencing financial strain. It’s important to feel comfortable asking for help when you need it. By starting a fundraiser and using the power of crowdfunding to bring attention to your cause, you can gather financial support from your network and community to help support you or the person you’re taking care of.
4. Maintain or create a healthy social life
Caretaking can take up a lot of time. To ensure you’re taking the right steps in caring for yourself, it’s crucial that you make time to enjoy the things that make you happy—like making time to get together with friends and family. When you organize your to-do lists for the week, see it as an opportunity to make some fun plans with your loved ones. Those connections you hold close can end up helping you the most when you’re feeling burnt out.
5. Share the responsibility
Delegating tasks to other family members can greatly help ease your own duties. Prepare a list of things others can assist you with and let your friends or family members choose what they can help out with. For instance, someone can help with laundry, or driving the person you care for to a doctor’s appointment. Another might commit to a weekly task like grocery shopping for you. If those you ask are unable to assist, these are some other options:
- Respite care: In-home respite care services can offer relief by having health care workers provide their services temporarily.
- Adult care centers and programs: These programs offer services for older adults who require daily supervision and care.
- Volunteer companions: Take advantage of senior companion volunteers. The program includes providing volunteers to seniors who have trouble with daily tasks.
- Short-term nursing homes: There are certain assisted living and nursing homes that will offer short stays for those needing care while their caretakers are away.
6. Join a caregiver support group
You don’t need to go through the stress of being a caregiver alone. Joining a support group is a great way to lean on and receive support from people going through something similar to you. There are both local and online groups you can choose from. To find the right group for you, search online, or ask your doctor, hospital, or local organization assisting with your loved one’s healthcare.
7. Don’t forget to care for yourself
It’s easy to get caught up in your caretaking responsibilities and to let the day-to-day duties overpower your own needs. If you’re feeling depressed or overwhelmed, seek out mental health support from a medical professional. Here are some other things you can do to ensure you’re making your own health a priority:
Since caregiver health can worsen over time, it’s crucial that you make time for yourself as well. Here are some things you can do to ensure you’re making your own needs a priority:
- Talk to a therapist who can help you while you’re caring for your loved one. A professional can offer a variety of treatments that will work best for you and help you come up with a plan or routine to help you daily.
- If you’re a formal caretaker and work outside of the home, consider taking a leave of absence or a long vacation. Ask your human resources team about options for unpaid leave.
- Invest in yourself by making the time to pursue your own personal interests. Stay active with the things that give your life meaning, like hobbies, church, relationships, your career, or exercise.
Overcome burnout by seeking and accepting help
GoFundMe is one of many options that can help. As a platform that offers fundraising, you can get assistance with associated expenses for caring for your loved one. Asking for and seeking the help you need plays a key part in overcoming caregiver burnout. Make sure that you’re taking care of yourself as well as the person you’re caretaking for.