We always want to make sure our family knows we care about them. We can even become a caregiver, or one who provides assistance in place of a professional who is reimbursed for services, when someone close to us becomes ill or otherwise unable to live independently. This level of closeness can be a huge sacrifice because it can create secondary stress in multiple life domains such as work and family relationships. It’s no surprise research shows that assuming a caregiving role can be stressful and burdensome; but since the origin of this role is to offer genuine love and care to a family or friend, how do we get back to this original intent? Here are 10 ways to survive family caregiver burnout.
Make the paperwork easier
One way to relieve the emotional and physical stress that caregiving often induces over time is to organize paperwork. Compiling a list of medical history, a contact sheet, and an up-to-date list of medications can do wonders in saving time. This can save hours of frustrating searches later. Then, give copies to your family members and keep extra copies on hand for doctors and other health professionals.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
It’s important to know when to not sweat the small stuff when you’re constantly stressing about your loved one. It can seem like an unending stream of little aggravations that can drive you crazy, but if you pick and choose what you’ll get upset about, you’ll spend less time feeling stressed. Try to let go of the bizarre things they sometimes say, the grumpy moods they slip into or the quirky little habits they pick up over time.
Help them want to eat
Sometimes it can be a struggle to help your loved one eat; a good way to address this is to help them want to eat. A trip to a sensitive and understanding counselor can help suss out the underlying problem and help find the most effective remedies.
Rather than trying to tackle all of your loved ones needs all at once, take it slow to avoid burning yourself out. Relax and focus on what you’re doing in the moment. This can also help reduce your risk of an accident and negate the experience of chronic stress that’s so common in caregiving.
It’s helpful to reflect on what is important about your role as a caregiver, and one way to do this is to reminisce on your relationship with your loved one.
Even though you’re the primary caregiver of your loved one, accept help when it is offered. Be prepared with a list of ways that others can help you, and let the helper choose what he or she would like to do.
Join a support group
You can also receive help in the form of support by joining a support group. People in support groups understand what you may be going through, and they can offer problem-solving strategies for difficult situations.
Set realistic goals
You can minimize stress by setting realistic goals and breaking large tasks into smaller steps that you can do one at a time. Prioritize, make lists and establish a daily routine.
See your doctor
Make sure you take care of yourself while you take care of your loved one. See your doctor to get recommended vaccinations and screenings.
Live your life with balance
While it can seem hard to balance everything when your main focus is another person, make sure to take time for yourself. Schedule time to call a friend or another family member to chat, take time to exercise, read, journal, or poke around your garden. Go easy on overindulging in food or internet shopping and stay socially engaged.