Compassion fatigue or caregiver burnout is a real thing where you are emotionally and physically exhausted, and just become unable to continue. You can combat this by taking care of yourself as the caregiver. By taking care of yourself you will be able to provide better care to your care receiver, as well as live a happier, healthier life. However, many caregivers make the mistake of waiting too long before taking care of themselves or asking for help.
- Am I taking care of myself?
- Why aren't I taking care of myself?
- What arrangements need to be made so I can have "me" time?
- What good will I be to the person I care for if I become ill?
- Do I have trouble asking for help or what I need?
- What do I really enjoy doing?
Use community resources:
The more you let these services help you, the less you have to do. Here are some places to get help:
- Local Area Agency on Aging
- Local Senior Citizen Centers
- Respite, Homemaking
- Meals on Wheels
- Adult Day Centers
- Support groups
- Additional Resources
- Create a plan, and write it down.
- Pursue your passions.
- Read a book.
- Set limits for what you can do.
- Knit, or sewing.
- Get a massage.
- Take a long bath or shower.
- Talk to a family member or friend.
- Meet with a counselor or therapist.
- Share your feelings with others.
- Repeat positive self-affirmations.
- Take a nap.
- Listen to music.
- Schedule a family meeting.
- Split up caregiving responsibilities.
- Take a moment to laugh.
- Give yourself credit.
- Take a Caregiver Workshop (Powerful Tools for Caregivers or Creating Confident Caregivers).
- Attend to your own healthcare needs, by going to the doctors, get routine exams and flu shots.
- Ask for help and accept help.
- Learn and use stress-reduction techniques, e.g. meditation, prayer, yoga, Tai Chi.
- Get proper rest and nutrition.
- Exercise regularly, even if only for ten minutes at a time.
- Take a break from caregiving.
Manage Stress by:
- Recognize warning signs early. These might include irritability, sleep problems, and forgetfulness. Know your own warning signs, and act to make changes. Do not wait until you are overwhelmed.
- Identify sources of stress. Ask yourself, “What is causing stress for me?” Sources of stress might be that you have too much to do, family disagreements, feelings of inadequacy, or the inability to say no.
- Identify what you can and cannot change. Remember, we can only change ourselves; we cannot change another person. When you try to change things over which you have no control, you will only increase your sense of frustration. Ask yourself, “What do I have some control over? What can I change?” Even a small change can make a big difference.
- Take action. Taking some action to reduce stress gives us back a sense of control. Stress reducers can be simple activities like walking and other forms of exercise, gardening, meditation, or having coffee with a friend. Identify some stress reducers that work for you.
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