Burnout happens to most people who serve as caregiver at some point in their service. Whether you are a paid caregiver who serves in a caregiving role professionally, or a family member providing help to a parent or grandparent it is still bound to happen. Everyone working in the field of "caregiving" reaches a point of being drained, burned out and used up. How do caregivers deal with this issue of Burnout, and what can they do to restore things to a healthier state?
First, accept that you are not a bad person because you have reached a point of frustration or exhaustion. It is normal. When you give and give in taking care of someone else's needs it can be draining. That emptiness can manifest itself as depression, exhaustion, frustration or even anger. You are a wonderful person, but you are NOT indestructible.
Next, seek out help if you need it. That help may come in the form of a well deserved break away from caregiving. This break could be a day, or it could be longer. Only you know how long you need to be refreshed. Just don't wait too long to make time for yourself as a caregiver. You are not able to provide the highest quality of assistance if you are overwhelmed. Your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual sides need to be recharged on a regular basis. Do what it takes to make room for personal rest and restoration in all four of those areas!
What does that even look like? It means getting enough good, uninterrupted sleep each day. It means feeding your mind with a good book or other enjoyable things that challenge your mind. It means talking about your stress or other overwhelming emotions with someone who cares and encourages you. It also means spending time every day tending your spiritual needs- reading, meditating or praying are all positive practices to help your soul move to a point of joy and health.
Finally, identify and isolate the things that seem to bring the most amount of stress in your situation. Look for creative ways to alleviate or avoid those most stressful issues or situations. If they are unavoidable, then talk with someone about techniques or behaviors you could use to minimize the impact that stress has on you.
Caregiving is hard work. Anyone who has ever been a caregiver for long can testify that is true. But caregiving does not have to be a destructive event for the life of the caregiver. Keep your head up, and look for that outstretched hand offering you encouragement & hope! We are in this together!
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Page Cole is a leader in home care in Oklahoma. He has published the following resources for Seniors-