Caregiver burnout is a hazard faced by all caregivers.
According to caregiveraction.org, more than 65 million Americans (29% of the population) are caregivers.
Of these caregivers:
- 23% report their health is only fair or poor
- 63% report having bad eating habits
- 58% report poor exercise habits
- 40-70% have clinically significant symptoms of depression with approximately a quarter to half of these caregivers meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression. (Zarit, S. (2006). Assessment of Family Caregivers: A Research Perspective)
As a caregiver, we often forget how important it is to take care of ourselves as well as our charges. Others always seem to come first until it’s too late and we are injured or just burned out.
The most obvious way we can care for ourselves is through our physical health. Caring for others often involves carrying or lifting. We can easily hurt ourselves doing these.
On the other side of the coin, caregiving can also involve being a companion, therefore lots of sitting and just being there.
Though at the opposite end of the spectrum, both of these can present hazards to the caregiver’s health.
Make sure to include physical activity in your daily routine. Walking, yoga, whatever you enjoy doing. If your charge is not mobile, maybe you can take them for a walk in a wheelchair. Also, be sure to stretch your muscles before any exercise and before you lift or carry anything.
When we think of caregiver burnout, mental health is usually the assumed culprit. Caregivers have so much going on that they push themselves to the end of the line.
Give yourself time to clear your mind. Get a massage, meditate, or just take a walk. Clear the cobwebs so you can continue giving.
Don’t hesitate to get professional help if needed. Depression and other mental health disorders are caused by chemical imbalances.
There is a difference between “feeling down” and being depressed. If you can’t “shake it off” get help! There’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s no different than treating a physical condition.
Your spiritual health is what gets and keeps you going every day. Each of us has different ways of expressing ourselves spiritually.
- Take time out to pray, meditate or practice your own spiritual rituals
- Speak to your pastor or another religious figure
- Attend services at your church, synagogue or mosque
- Find your own faith in your beliefs. Religious affiliation is not required for spiritual health
- Find meaning in your role as a caregiver
- Identify all the positive things that have come out of the situation
- Think about what you can learn from the situation and how that can make you a stronger person
No two people are spiritual in the same way so this is something very personal to everyone. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it refreshes your mind and spirit. For more ideas check out Netofcare.org
Take Care to avoid burnout
As you can see, taking care of yourself is an important part of caring for others. For more resources check out this post.
Fill your cup so that you can share yourself with others.