Best Strategies For Self Care For Caregivers

November 20, 2023    |    By Madeeha Usman    |    10 min read
Best Strategies For Self Care For Caregivers

The act of providing care can be draining on both the physical and emotional levels. It is essential to keep in mind that you need to give yourself time to recharge your batteries, whether you are a professional caregiver or simply providing care for a loved one. For other members of the family, providing care can lead to additional stresses, such as financial strain, tension within the family, and withdrawal from social activities. Burnout is a disorder that can be caused by the stress that caregivers experience over time.

Burnout among caregivers is a prime illustration of how prolonged exposure to stress can be detrimental to both mental and physical health. Chronic stress causes a release of stress hormones in the body, which can lead to weariness, irritation, a weakened immune system, digestive problems, headaches, pains, and weight gain, particularly around the midsection of the body. Chronic stress also causes a release of stress hormones in the body, which can contribute to depression. In this article, we will discuss how caregivers can receive self-care for them to function well to their loved ones.

What is caregiver burnout?

Burnout among caregivers occurs when the demands placed on them by their caregiving responsibilities become overwhelming. They may begin to occupy all of your time and energy, leaving you feeling emotionally fatigued as a result of continuously putting on a pleasant face or hiding your feelings. This may cause you to feel as though you have no control over your life. And in addition to the stress placed on a caregiver's mental health, the physical rigours of the role can also take their toll. It all depends on how much assistance the person requires, but doing things like pushing a wheelchair all the time could eventually cause back pain.

What is caregiver burnout_

You may recognize indicators of burnout in your role as a caregiver, which is a full-time job, in the same way, that you can discover signs of burnout in your role at work. This is especially important to keep in mind if the individual for whom you are providing care suffers from a chronic condition such as Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, or mobility challenges. However, stress and burnout among caregivers are not exclusive to those who do both of their responsibilities on a full-time basis. People who work part-time employment or who are only able to see the person they care about on an irregular basis are more likely to be affected by this condition. Regardless of the circumstances, no caregiver is immune to the emotions of burnout and tiredness that often come with the job.

 Symptoms of Stress in Caregivers

If you are providing care for a loved one, you may be so preoccupied with that person that you are oblivious to the fact that your health and well-being are deteriorating. Keep an eye out for the following indications of stress in caregivers:

Symptoms of Stress in Caregivers

  • Experiencing overwhelming stress or persistent anxiety
  • Having fatigue regularly
  • Oversleeping or insufficient sleep
  • Putting on or shedding some pounds
  • Easily agitated or angry.
  • Experiencing a decline in interest in past hobbies and interests.
  • Feeling sad
  • Enduring persistent headaches, aches, and pains throughout the body, as well as other health issues
  • Abuse of alcoholic beverages, illegal narcotics, or other substances, including prescribed medication

Strategies

Here are some strategies to follow to regain your strength and liveliness back when caring for a loved one

Strategies

1. Take a Break

Providing care for a family member can become a career that requires you to work full-time or even around the clock. It could appear as though you never get a break from your work. However, all those who provide care for others require personal time. It is entirely acceptable and even good to take a step back and allow another person to take up the position. If you need a break from your responsibilities, ask a trustworthy friend or another member of your family to assist you with some of them.

It could be something as straightforward as asking a friend or family member to assist you in preparing meals or to give you a break by taking a loved one out for a stroll. Your mental and physical health will benefit from permitting yourself to spend thirty minutes alone every day to attend to your personal needs. There is also the option of temporary care, known as respite care. If you sign up for this kind of service, a qualified caregiver will come to your home to look after your loved one while you take a break for a few days or weeks.

2. Prioritise your mental and physical health

If you are irritable and tense all the time, you are not doing the people you care about any favours by acting this way. If you disregard your own need for rest and sustenance, you may end up feeling exhausted and depleted, with little energy and patience to devote to taking care of another person. A second factor that can contribute to the development of resentment is failing to attempt to schedule regular time for oneself.

You can nurture and fill your cup by engaging in regular exercise, maintaining a social life, eating a healthy meal, getting a good night's rest, taking regular pauses, and maintaining a healthy diet. Make it a part of your routine to engage in activities that are beneficial to your health, such as attentive deep breathing, meditation, morning walks, and regular exposure to sunlight. When you need assistance, consult a professional such as a psychiatrist or a psychotherapist. Take care of yourself so that you can be there for the people you care about. If you allow yourself to be filled up to the point that you have enough to contribute, you will be able to meet and overcome any problems that come your way.

3. Make your life easier for yourself!

You're trying to do everything, but you're taking on too many duties, and you're running yourself ragged since your schedule is overbooked. Take a step back, assess the situation, and search for ways to streamline and free up more time in the daily agenda. For instance, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get your loved one ready, factor in additional time to find parking and limit the number of events, such as appointments or social gatherings, that you book for each day to one or two. Make better use of your time by automating the payment of your bills and reducing the amount of time spent preparing meals. Things take a great deal more time than you might anticipate at this point. Leaving room in one's schedule to deal with unforeseen challenges as they arise might help reduce feelings of tension and anxiety experienced throughout the day.

4. Don't be overly critical of your actions.

You may experience feelings of guilt if you take time off for your own self-care needs. You are aware of what is best for your health as well as how to increase your capabilities as a caregiver; nonetheless, guilt continues to plague you. You feel overwhelmed by guilt because for once you're putting your needs first. But where do these thoughts that you are being overly critical of yourself come from? The reason for this is that you aim for perfection, although it is impossible to achieve. It's common knowledge that feeling guilty is a destructive emotion that drains your energy for no good reason. When you perceive that progress is being made, it makes you feel as though you have more of an obligation to take action.

Even though you are aware that you are unable to be there for someone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you may still feel terrible for not being there to provide adequate assistance. It doesn't matter if they're close friends or family members; taking care of someone is difficult. It's yet another argument in favour of the need of practising self-compassion and self-care. It's not uncommon to feel exhausted from showing compassion or empathy, so it's important to keep track of how much work you put in. Do not be concerned about taking some time off.

5. Ask for help and accept help 

How frequently have you responded to persons who have asked whether they may be of assistance to you by saying, "Thank you, but I'm fine"? Many people who care for others are uncomfortable with the idea of asking for assistance because they do not understand how to effectively harness the generosity of others. It's possible that you don't want to "burden" other people or acknowledge that you can't handle everything on your own. Maintain a running mental tally of the various ways in which other people might be able to assist you. For instance, someone else could take the individual that you are caring for out for a brisk 15-minute walk a couple of times per week.

Your neighbour could run to the grocery shop and pick up a few items for you if you permit them. Some of the paperwork for the insurance policy could be completed by a relative. When the work is broken down into relatively simple tasks, it is much simpler for everyone to contribute to the effort. And they are eager to be of assistance. It is up to you to explain the procedure to them. Help is available from a variety of sources, including professionals, family members, and friends. Inquire about them. Do not wait until you are completely overworked and worn out or until your health collapses before taking action. When you are in a position where you require assistance, it takes strength of character to ask for it.

6. Respite care

Taking a break from the person you are caring for can be one of the best things you can do for both yourself and the person you are caring for. The majority of localities provide some form of temporary care for residents, such as:

  • A temporary break at home. Companions, nursing services, or both can be provided in the comfort of your own home by healthcare aides who travel to you.
  • Care facilities and services geared toward adults. Some facilities offer care for both elderly people and young children, and it's not uncommon for the two age groups to interact throughout their time there.
  • Nursing homes for a short period. People who require care for only a short time may be able to stay in certain assisted living facilities, memory care homes, and nursing homes while their primary caregivers are away.
  • The caregiver who is employed in an environment other than the home

Almost sixty per cent of those who provide care have jobs outside the home. When you combine being a caretaker with a job outside the home, you may start to feel overwhelmed. If this is the case, you might want to consider taking some time off from your regular employment. Depending on the circumstances, workers who are protected by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act may be permitted to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave every year to care for immediate family members. Inquire with your company's human resources office about the availability of unpaid leave.

Conclusion

Taking a break from caregiving responsibilities is essential for caregivers to maintain their own physical and mental health. Caregiving can be a 24/7 job that can take a toll on caregivers, and respite care can provide them with the opportunity to rest, recharge, and engage in self-care practices. Care Assure's respite care services can give caregivers peace of mind knowing that their loved ones are in capable hands and receiving the care they need. In summary, respite care is a crucial component of self-care for caregivers, and Care Assure can provide this service to help caregivers take much-needed breaks and prioritise their well-being.

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