Everyone suffers from the occasional bout of job burnout; feelings of stress, tiredness, and frustration can take its toll when you’re feeling overwhelmed. However, these feelings are especially prevalent in the home care community.
Over 15 million Americans serve as unpaid caregivers to family members or close friends that suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Caring for them day in and day out becomes a necessity for those who prefer to keep their family members at home instead of relying on a memory care facility to take care of them.
However, this strenuous job often leads to feelings of burnout in the caregiver. There are 450,000 caregivers in the state of Arkansas alone who are likely feeling the side effects of constant care. The Millennial generation, in particular, is taking up the duties of the caregiver as their aging parents transition into retirement.
Dr. Jean Accius, the vice president of the Public Policy Institute of AARP, notes the difficulties associated with becoming a full-time caregiver.
“You have been a caregiver, you are caregiving or you’re likely to become a caregiver…this is something that’s going to impact all of us at some point in our life,” they said. “Family caregivers across the country are, in many ways, invisible to the system, and they’re having to do a lot of the complicated responsibilities of caregiving with little to no support.”
So, how do caregivers combat feelings of burnout?
While it’s important to take some time for yourself, Forbes recommends you spend more time with other people. Connecting to yourself and connecting to the world are ways to break out of the daily routine that makes you feel bogged down with responsibility. Each day, you should take the time to connect with yourself through meditation and reflection, but you should also take the time to maintain your relationships with others.
Caregivers, in particular, find it difficult to break away from their duties. After all, they are in charge of the wellbeing of another person. As such, it can be difficult to make time where there isn’t any in the first place.
Of course, we prize physical closeness with another individual but it’s unlikely you’re going to become best friends with the caregiver down the block from walking outside. One caregiver, Denise Brown, created Caregiving.com in order to connect caregivers across the globe. Additionally, Brown’s site offers blogs, advice, podcasts, and more.
“We can sometimes think no one will understand how hard this is or what really goes on during the day,” Brown notes. “The emotional toll of caregiving can be significant; it is isolating and lonely, and we really want people to know that there is support for them and there’s understanding and there is help.”
A recent survey conducted by Embracing Carers and Brown revealed that nearly 47% of caregivers experience feelings of depression. It was also estimated that 57% of caregivers feel like they need medical help or additional support regarding their mental health.
This is where connection really comes into play. The isolation caused by caregiving can seem overwhelming but taking the time to connect with other caregivers to vent frustrations and seek advice is essential. Instead of disconnecting from the world, utilizing the internet is a great way to find others in your situation. Google receives an astounding 100 billion searches every month from people across the globe. With so many people utilizing the internet, there are support systems for every branch of work, including caregivers.
Additionally, a caregiver mustn’t forget to take care of their physical health. Daily showering and hygiene is a must, but focusing on the nitty-gritty will truly help your body feel refreshed. That means flossing, shaving, even plucking those stray eyebrow hairs. Many practitioners of self-care will also take time out of each morning to do their makeup. It’s a meditative action that allows the caregiver to think and create at the same time. Experiment with the different ways you practice self-care to avoid the monotony of routine.
There are also other ways to practice physical self care. Whether you’re more of a napper or a baker, performing activities you love is essential to feeling better and reconnecting with yourself. When you take the time to care for others, you’re often unable to partake in the things you love to do. Don’t forget the importance of activity.
Serving as a caregiver can be one of the most rewarding and taxing jobs in our lives. When you’re feeling burnt out or at your wit’s end, try some of these tips to engage with yourself and others to beat the feeling of burnout.