Approximately 30% of the U.S. population is comprised of caregivers. That means one in three people serves the ongoing needs of a loved one.
From coordinating transport, scheduling doctor appointments, distributing medications, cooking meals, bathing and so on, caregiving is a tedious undertaking. In fact, according to recent caregiver statistics, the average caregiver spends about 20 hours per week giving care to their loved one(s), so it’s crucial a caregiver takes stock of their personal mental, emotional and physical health. If the stress of the situation gets too high, the risk of caregiver burnout, aka Caregiver Fatigue Syndrome, creeps in and the quality care of a loved one can begin to dwindle.
Address the stress
A scattered mind and a heavy heart is a recipe for disaster. Few caregivers wake up and decide that enough is enough, but many sense the chronic imbalance of a personal life and the many responsibilities of caregiving.
The truth of the matter is that stress can quickly deteriorate the outlook and energy a caregiver brings to the table. And when a caregiver notices a hiccup in the care of their loved one, they’re sure to feel that much more stress.
Don’t fall into the vicious cycle. Address the stress.
The better you take care of yourself, the better you’ll be able to handle everything life throws your way. You’ve got to flip the script. Don’t be a victim to caregiver burnout. Take charge and combat the fatigue before it sets in!
Find caregiver relief
You’ll be amazed at the momentum you gain when you take an active stance against stress. Making a decision is half the battle.
Consider the following to improve your mental, physical and emotional well being:
- Strength in numbers: From online forums to support groups, caregivers find strength and accountability in numbers. Don’t be afraid to connect with others in the community to revitalize, reconsider and recharge. Remember that you are not alone.
- Sweat it out: Physical activity is a superb way to relieve stress. Whether you incorporate your loved one for a brief outing like a push around the block, or rekindle an athletic activity from your past, you’re sure to feel renewed.
- Tackle with technology: Don’t cram your brain full of dates and times. There’s no need to over exhaust yourself. Aggregate information on your phone or tablet. Explore apps and other innovative solutions. Reconsider technology that alleviates the physical strain of caregiving. Instead of pushing and pulling the wheelchair in and out of the family car, try a mobility conversion with a helpful ramp. Technology is your friend.
- Don’t bottle it up: Reach out for help and express yourself. Pent up frustration turns toxic. Whether you confide in friends or family, write in a personal journal, pray or vent through an artistic pursuit, the more you cleanse your heart and mind, the better you’ll feel day in and out.
- Set aside solitude: You needn’t feel guilty establishing windows of solitude. Start with 10 minutes a day and work up to 30 minutes as you explore the benefits of time for yourself. Grab lunch, read a book, pamper yourself and enjoy the calm. Savor healthy times of solitude so you can revisit your caregiving responsibilities feeling rejuvenated and centered.
- Stay positive: Make a conscious decision to see things on the bright side. You and your loved one will have good days and bad days but every day has small victories. Focus on the things you can control and make the best of every challenge. Your perspective is contagious so keep it uplifting!
- Rest and relief: Strive for healthy sleep patterns. When sleep exits the equation, stress skyrockets. Be sure to give your mind and body ample time to charge up each night so you can approach the day at your maximum potential.
When life throws you curveballs and things are out of control you can still choose to smile. You serve your loved one because you care. And though you might not always get a pat on the back or a break in the storm, caregiving is one of life’s most beautiful relationships.
You owe it to yourself and your loved one to combat caregiver burnout and to seek joy.
Don’t spend another second shackled to your stresses.