Expending energy into someone long-term can result in a number of things. Done incorrectly, caregiving can cause exhaustion or a burnout. A lot of caregivers tend to think that they have to walk the journey alone. As a caregiver, it is important that you understand the need to invest in your own well-being and health. To be able to care for someone else and do it properly, you need to ensure that you are taken care of first.
What is caregiver exhaustion?
Caregiver exhaustion or burnout means that you might become mentally, physically and/or emotionally fatigued. This burnout may cause a change in your approach from positive to negative. Your attitude and feelings towards your loved one may become noticeably different and not in a good way. A few of the symptoms associated with caregiver exhaustion are as listed.
2. Sleeping issues or lack of sleep
6. Lack of energy
There is an extensive list of all the symptoms associated with caregiver burnout. But how do you avoid caregiver exhaustion? There are innumerable tactics that you can implement to protect you from the notorious burnout. Here are 5 useful and reasonable tips that will help you prevent exhaustion:
Eat Quality Food and in Good Quantity
Once we get busy and distracted by something or someone, the first thing that goes is our appetite. Other times we just straight up forget to eat, and that's OK. But once it becomes routine to not eat, then we have a problem. Food is fuel. You wouldn’t try to drive a car without gas. Take this same approach to your diet and body. The better fueled your body is, the better it operates. I don’t know about you, but without food I’m moody and angry. No one is happy when they’re hungry, so just do yourself this one favor: Eat! Eat well!
Seek out Support from Friends and Family
You might feel particularly responsible for your loved one. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get assistance and support from your friends and family. Ask for help. There is no shame in seeking assistance. Ask your family or friends to help with the small things like cooking, laundry and washing the dishes; having these small tasks done will relieve your stress. Outside of that, you need emotional and mental support. Talk to someone. This someone can be a family, a friend or a support group. Don’t underestimate the power of just talking about your feelings and what you’re going through.
After a long day of working and regular activities, you’re tired. Life and caregiving is demanding. Just as you push yourself to work hard taking care of your loved one, apply that same effort to developing a sleep schedule. A good night of sleep leaves you energized and promotes good energy and an even better mood. These things combined can make life better for you. If you must, set a reminder that tells you when you should settle into bed.
Make Time for the Things You Love
As a caregiver, you might forget the small things that you enjoy. Your identity may become wrapped up in your duties as a caregiver. It is, therefore, paramount that you take time to do what makes you smile. No matter how small these things are, if they bring you peace and joy, make time for it. These indulgences can be anything:
1. Reading a book
2. Going dancing
3. Having brunch with your friends
5. Going to the park
Anything on God’s green earth that brings a smile to your face, invest the effort and time to indulge in it. Don’t take for granted the effect that these things have on your attitude, energy and happiness.
Take Time Off from Being a Caregiver
Reminder: You are a caregiver. Caregiver is not your identity. It's easy to forget that you exist outside your duties as a caregiver. It helps to take some time off. Your guilt about leaving your loved one in the care of someone else is understandable, but time-off helps both you and who you’re caring for. You'll return to them refreshed and in high-spirits.
Think of it this way: Mothers, too, get tired and exhausted from all their duties. Caring for one or more kids, holding down a job and taking care a husband is taxing. However, it's acceptable for mothers to seek out help from family and friends and to take time off. You, as a caregiver, can take the same guilt-free approach. It takes a village.
Being a caregiver is tough and will remain that way. But implementing these strategies will make it easier, and help to prevent exhaustion. Not only will you be happy about these changes, but your loved one will be too.