Caregiver Burnout

Caregiver burnout is real and with so many of our parents living longer, the general population has recognized what we have known for a while. Working 24/7 taking care of another human is hard. The good news is that there are more resources available today than just a few short years ago. In addition, as a culture, we are finally learning that self-care is not the same thing as self-ish.

When I was a young mom, I thought it was dreamland when people would tell me, “sleep when the baby sleeps.” “Yeah, okay…” How can that happen, there is so much to do! What I realized—granted, much, much later—is that when you take even a little time for yourself, the resentment that often builds up over time, is diminished, which makes it easier to DO all the things.

While it would be great to have a weekend away or lunch with a friend–and if you can slip away to do that, please do–even small things like doing a face mask, lighting a candle, or sitting down with a refreshing drink and a book or magazine can do wonders. 

Okay, I get it. Your child has been on a tear for 3 hours because we made the wrong pasta shape for lunch. I’m not telling you it’s easy. I’m saying that it is important. I would also suggest that you don’t waste your precious few moments on screen time. I love it if you are here on our community to make friends, share resources and enjoy some of our events–and that can definitely count toward YOU time. Purposeful screen time, like a movie or favorite show, or even Panda Pop can be a fun distraction. What we are talking about here though is actual time to refill your tank. If you look up and three hours have passed, and you don’t feel refreshed, even a little, then please choose a different action. 

Let’s try something. Set a time for 1 minute. Write down everything you can think of that you can do in your home that makes you feel good.

Here are mine:

Light a candle, do a skin care treatment, lotion up, make a cup of tea and sit down for 9 minutes (I can never get to 10 but that is the goal), read, call or text a friend, pray, take a short walk-even around the backyard, make a to-do list (including a couple things I already did that day so I can feel extra successful checking them off–yes, I know that’s crazy), and finally, patting my dog.

I think there are lots more, but that was what I came up with in 1 minute.

The point is, taking a moment, does not have to be some redefining moment. It’s about recognizing that you work hard, you have a lot on your plate and you deserve a moment’s peace.

If you need more inspiration, here are a few ideas from Today’s Caregiver. which also might be a good resource for you.

  • Laugh about something everyday 
  • Take care of yourself physically. 
  • Eat a well-balanced diet. 
  • Talk with someone every day. 
  • Let family and friends help. Give them printed material on memory disorders so they can better understand your relative. Give them a chance. 
  • Give yourself permission to have a good cry. Tears aren’t a weakness, they reduce tension.
  • Exercise. A brisk walk counts. 
  • Get adequate rest. 
  • Try a bowl of Cheerios and milk before bed to promote sleep. 
  • Avoid noisy and/or tension-filled movies at night. The late news itself can add to stress. Skip it.
  • Reduce daily caffeine intake. 
  • Get professional help if you feel your support system isn’t adequate or if you feel overwhelmed. 
  • Take a break very day, even if it’s only 10 minutes alone in the backyard. 
  • Explore community resources and connect yourself with them. 
  • Listen to music. 
  • Learn relaxation techniques. 
  • Regularly attend one or more support groups and education workshops. 
  • Give yourself a treat at least once a month: an ice cream cone….a new shirt or dress….a night out with friends….a flowering plant. 
  • Know your limitations.

Let us know what has worked for you and what you might be willing to try. In the meantime, wishing you peace. -Ang

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