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Stress is a leading cause of many health-damaging illnesses, and caregivers are bound to experience this throughout their career. The brutal demands of caregiving can affect your health and even your sanity. This is what experts call caregiver burnout, and long-term effects include anxiety, depression, irritability, and physical and mental exhaustion. which do not only affect you, but also your loved ones and your patients. Whether you are currently experiencing this, or you want to prevent this from happening, here are tips on how you can avoid caregiver burnout.
- Empower yourself about the importance of your work. Focus only on the positive effects of your career choice. Consider this more of a vocation than an actual job.
- Put yourself in your patient’s shoes. Sure, caregiving could be exhausting, but most of these patients have had it rough too, and maybe even suffering from physical or emotional pain. Hiring a caregiver is costly and if they are in the right condition to not need someone to take care of them, they would not even bother hiring one.
- Celebrate even the smallest victories and reward yourself once in a while. You are making the world a better place, one person at a time. Every good deed counts.
- Ask for help if you cannot handle things in one go. It could be a friend or a family member, as long as they could assist you with even the most trivial of errands, that would be helpful.
- Always treasure the people around you. Express yourself in a way that your friends and family will truly understand the situation you are in. Limit your connections with negative people who will drag you down. Surround yourself with those who appreciate you and really care.
- Organize and be prepared for everything. Caregiver life is different from personal life, so learn how to separate the two and be professional. Make a to-do list beforehand. Gather data about your patient, then plan ahead. Unexpected circumstances will happen, so a foolproof contingency plan will lessen the burden of too much work.
- Join a support group or a forum with the same concerns as you. You need an outlet to vent out and seek support. You are not alone in this endeavor. Find the right people you could trust, aside from your family and friends.
- Give yourself a break sometimes. You are a caregiver after all, not a robot. Treat yourself to a place where for one day, you can forget all the stress you have had for a week. Live a little.
- Take a small portion of your time for exercise or meditation. Both of them will enhance your mood and boost feelings of joy and well-being. They also break the habit of constantly running errands for your patient.
- Always maintain a good sleep routine. Studies show that lack of sleep could induce stress levels to increase, leading to mood swings and lack of productivity in work.
- Eat healthy. A balanced diet will keep you focused, energetic and lively no matter how stressful the situation is. Truth is, many foods (especially sugar and caffeine) create a crash that could decrease your energy levels. You do not want them.