Caregivers often neglect their own health because they’re so focused on the health and wellbeing of others. Unfortunately, this comes at a price: burnout.
If you’re taking care of someone who relies on you for help, you have to take care of yourself to avoid burning out. Caregiver burnout is more than just having a rough day, and isn’t something you can recover from by getting a good night’s sleep. It’s something that builds up over time and has long-lasting effects on your health. For instance, this type of burnout results in exhaustion, depression, anxiety, and for some, anger.
To maintain your wellbeing, it’s imperative that you take care of yourself while you care for others. Here are some of the best ways to embrace the self-care that you need without having to give up your care duties.
1. Become a paid caregiver
Chances are, you have to take time off work for your caregiving duties, and that means losing part of your paycheck. If you don’t have additional sources of income, you’ll benefit from supplementing your income by becoming a paid caregiver.
Most states have programs that allow Medicaid recipients to have their friends and family become paid caregivers, paid for by the state. Some states, including Nevada, have exceptional programs that will provide you with additional benefits.
Even if you can afford to take time off work, it’s worth signing up to get paid. You’re going to be caring for your loved one anyway, so you may as well get paid for your time.
2. Get support from a group
You might be surprised at how helpful it can be to get support from a caregiver support group. For example, people in your life may not understand what you’re going through unless they’ve been a caregiver. Joining a support group will validate your feelings and experiences. You’ll also get tips for handling various situations, and you’ll make some friends.
If you seek support, make sure you find a caregiver support group. Although general therapy and general support groups might be helpful, you’ll find the best support from people who understand first-hand what you’re experiencing.
3. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise will boost your mood and keep you healthy at the same time. For instance, the endorphins created by exercising can pick you up if you’re struggling emotionally with your caregiving responsibilities. Exercising can also help you get stronger, which can assist you in lifting and transferring your loved one.
Another interesting benefit of exercise is that when your heart rate increases, norepinephrine is released, which is believed to help the brain deal with stress. If you find yourself feeling lethargic, depressed, or anxious, try exercising. You can jump rope, do yoga, lift weights, do a band workout, go for a jog, or just do some bodyweight exercises. No matter how simple your routine is, anything will help.
4. Ask for help
If you need help, nobody will know unless you ask for that help. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends to help you once in a while if you need something. For example, if you need to go shopping for your loved one, but you don’t have time, ask a friend to pick up some items for you when they go to the store.
If you have friends and family who are also assisting with caregiving duties, ask them for extra help when you feel like your load is too heavy. If they can’t take on more, then you’ll need to hire some additional caregivers.
5. Hire additional caregivers
Sometimes caring for yourself means hiring out the tasks you can’t or don’t want to perform. Hiring caregivers will relieve you of simple, yet exhausting tasks like laundry, dishes, shopping, and taking your loved one to appointments. If your loved one only wants you to help with more personal tasks, like bathing, delegating other tasks to another caregiver will ensure you have enough physical and emotional energy for these tasks.
6. Use delivery services
Delivery services that bring groceries and food to your door will relieve a lot of pressure. Use these services for everything you can, including groceries, hot meals, and even laundry services.
Self-care makes you more available to help others
When you’re a caregiver, you naturally put everyone else first and probably don’t even think about taking care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself makes you more available to help others because it keeps you in good health and in a good mood.
Don’t neglect yourself while caregiving. It’s easy to lose sight of your own needs, but for the sake of your loved one and the rest of your family, prioritize self-care.