Being a primary caregiver for a loved one is one of the noblest and most selfless things a person can do. Being willing to put your heart and energy toward taking care of someone who needs your help is beyond admirable. But it can be challenging, and it’s common for primary caregivers to experience burnout or a state of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion. Prolonged stress is a common cause of burnout, and it can make it more challenging to be an effective caregiver.
As of 2015, around 43 million Americans served as unpaid caregivers, and that number has undoubtedly grown since then. Approximately 40% of caregivers, over 17 million people, consider their role as a caregiver to be highly stressful. Further, around 17% of caregivers say they have only fair or poor health themselves. With this much stress and difficulty surrounding a caregiver’s crucial role, it’s essential to find ways to make it less stressful and avoid burnout.
Caregiver burnout can affect multiple areas of your life. It can affect your social life, your hobbies, your general happiness, your appetite, your sleep, your health, your patience, and your emotions. It’s common for people experiencing burnout to withdraw from their friends and become more irritable. Many people experiencing burnout also experience changes in appetite and weight and get sick more often.
You may be asking yourself, “How can I avoid caregiver burnout?” Well, we’ve come up with a few ways. One of the best ways to avoid caregiver burnout is to find a trusted person to talk with about your feelings. This trusted person could be a friend or family member or even a coworker or therapist. Voicing your emotions and talking about your frustrations is an excellent way of avoiding burnout.
It’s essential to ensure you’re taking care of yourself to be an effective caregiver. Another method of avoiding burnout is to ensure you’re taking time to eat healthy meals and exercise. Taking time to eat nutritiously and exercise will improve your physical and mental health, both of which are at the heart of being a good caregiver.
Another effective method of avoiding caregiver burnout is to find a community. In stressful situations, it’s easier to have a community to turn to for help. Having a social circle like this can help reduce stress and help you find new methods of doing things you may not have thought of before. At Aspire Home Health and Hospice, we feel that this method is underutilized. That’s why we’ve started a caregiver support group on Facebook. In this community, you’ll find other primary caregivers, registered nurses, therapists, social workers, and other people who are in similar situations. Visit our Facebook group to join.
Knowing your limits and being honest with yourself is a great way to avoid burnout. Not everyone will experience burnout as a caregiver, and that’s great! But, it’s essential to evaluate your situation and how you’re feeling to know for sure. It’s much better to be over-prepared and know for sure than to keep going when you’re not in the right headspace. We all want to make sure we’re the best possible caregivers for our loved ones.
We hope this list has given you some effective methods of avoiding burnout. We also hope to see you in our Primary Caregiver Support Group!