Being a caregiver is a full-time job, regardless of what type of caregiving you are providing. It can take a huge toll on our mental, emotional, and even physical well-being. If the stress is prolonged, it can eventually lead to someone experiencing burnout which can, in turn, have adverse side effects like depression, anxiety, weight gain, feeling of hopelessness, and oversleeping.
But when we are too busy taking care of other people, we often forget to take care of ourselves. It’s like the idea behind the oxygen mask on an airplane. The safety precautions always say that before putting on your child’s mask, you need to put yours on first.
Here are ways you can take care of yourself as a family caregiver before you start to experience some of the physical, mental, and emotional side effects of burnout.
Join Support Groups
Human connection is incredibly important, and unfortunately, caregiving for a family member can become incredibly isolating depending on their needs. The most important thing to remember is that you never have to be a caregiver alone.
There are several different types of caregiver support groups available both in-person and online. Sometimes making a phone call to a friend to vent could be exactly what you need. But the truth is, not everyone will understand what you are going through. Support groups are an opportunity to connect with people in similar situations who need a safe space to anonymously share their struggles.
Take Time For Yourself
As a caregiver, it’s important to check in with yourself. When was the last time you took a day that was only for you as a person and not as a caregiver? If you need a day, check in with your family, friends, or network to see if someone can come and give you a few hours reprieve so you can run errands, pamper yourself, or simply leave the house.
If you don’t have a large network, there are other home aids that will have professional and certified caregivers come to your home for a few hours. It’s a low commitment and will give you the allotted time you need to take a little time for proper self-care as a caregiver.
Pay Attention to Your Body
One of the main reasons caregivers experience burnout is because of their own physical health. They tend to get less sleep or begin to eat poorly because they are either too busy trying to manage all of their duties as a caregiver. But in order to have a healthy mind, you need to have a healthy body.
Getting plenty of rest and having a healthy diet can make a huge difference in your daily life. Nutrients and sleep allow us to think clearer and manage our emotions.
Get Extra Help
At a certain point throughout your time as a family caregiver, you may realize that maintaining your well-being might mean more than taking a little time here and there to take care of yourself. You may need the extra assistance of an assisted living facility. While this conversation isn’t easy to have, it certainly is one of the most important ones.
Various signs that it may be time to consider an assisted living facility may include:
- Your loved one’s health is declining to where you no longer have the means or qualifications to help.
- You or your loved one’s safety is at risk.
- They can no longer feed, bathe, or handle other daily tasks on their own.
- They develop poor eating or hygiene habits.
- You, as the caregiver, are suffering due to caregiving responsibilities.
- They are unable to take medications.
- Your loved one has experienced recent falls.
No matter the reasoning for needing to obtain extra assistance in caring for your loved one, it is no reflection on you as a person. People are only able to handle so much, and every caregiver deserves to have a positive quality of life that may require extra help.