Caregivers are experts at fulfilling others’ needs, doting on people that require a helping hand. However, ironically, many caregivers fail to fulfill their own needs, forgetting to care for their most important, lifelong patients—themselves.
Read on to learn 7 tips for taking care of yourself as a caregiver, avoiding burnout, and how an Acorn stairlift can help lift some weight off of your shoulders.
7 Tips to avoid burnout as a caregiver
1. Make sure that you are not the sole caregiver.
Being a caregiver already requires you to give so much of your time and energy to others, but being the sole caregiver can leave you feeling too drained and exhausted to even take care of yourself. Even worse, if you feel like the person you are caring for is completely dependent on you, it can feel like taking time to care for yourself is at their expense, possibly putting their safety and health in danger.
While caregivers are amazing human beings that dedicate their time and energy towards helping others for long, grueling hours at a time, they are not machines that can run constantly without rest. We are all human, and realistically, relying on only one person at all times is unsafe and impractical. This is why it is vital that there is always someone else that can care for the person, should you not be able to. Getting a neighbor or family member to fill in for you for even just a few hours can give you time to recover and return a renewed and rejuvenated version of yourself.
2. Give yourself regular breaks to recharge.
Everyone has a breaking point. However, for both you and your patient’s sake, you shouldn’t have to reach your breaking point in order to finally take a break. Reaching your breaking point not only puts stress on your own emotional and physical well-being, but it can also cause you to take out your built-up frustrations on your undeserving patient, which is never okay.
Sadly, elder abuse is a common global issue, with around 1 in 6 people aged 60 and older experiencing some form of abuse in community settings during the past year, according to the WHO. In fact, rates of elder abuse are high in institutions such as nursing homes and long-term care facilities, with 2 in 3 staff members reporting that they have committed abuse in the past year. This is why it is so important that caregivers take regular breaks and manage their own mental and physical health, as neglecting self-care ultimately harms both the caregiver and patient. Even just a small break can give you enough time to take a breather, have some coffee, and reframe your mindset.
3. If you live with the person you take care of, make sure that you have your own personal space.
When you are working a full-time job as a caregiver and living with the person you care for, it can be hard to implement boundaries that separate your personal life from your work life. For this reason, if you do live with the person you care for, it is especially important that you set both physical and emotional boundaries within the shared living space.
You can do this by having your own designated room or living area, as well as mapping out a defined work schedule that distinguishes your working time from your free time. Having a personal space allows you to physically remove yourself from your work environment, escaping to your safe haven for privacy, rest, and time alone.
4. Get enough sleep every night.
Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep keeps you active and alert throughout the entire day, improving your overall quality of life. Conversely, not getting enough sleep causes the opposite effects, leaving you groggy and grumpy throughout the day and more likely to snap at your patients or crumble under the pressure of long working hours. Most adults require between 7 and 9 hours of shuteye, so if you would like to continue shining light into the lives of others, it’s time for lights out.
5. Fuel your body with healthy foods.
Your body is a complex machine with many moving parts, so what you choose to fuel it with matters significantly. Nourishing your body with healthy foods not only keeps you energized throughout the day while working long shifts, but it also improves your overall wellbeing, including both your mental and physical health. For example, here are a few of the benefits that you can experience from providing your body with the proper nutrients:
- May help you live longer
- Keeps skin, teeth, and eyes healthy
- Supports muscles
- Boosts immunity
- Strengthens bones
- Lowers risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers
- Supports healthy pregnancies and breastfeeding
- Helps the digestive system function
- Helps achieve and maintain a healthy weight
Before the beginning of each week, fill your fridge with nutritious foods you would like to incorporate into your diet such as fresh fruits and veggies, protein-packed produce, fibrous foods, and whole grains. Stay prepared by planning out what healthy meals and snacks you would like to eat throughout the week. You can even cook food ahead of time and package it up so that all you have to do is heat it up when it’s time to eat. For convenience and cutting down time, remember to include easily transportable snacks that you can reach for even when you’re in a rush such as apples, carrots, and hard-boiled eggs.
6. Set aside leisure time just for you.
Part of taking care of yourself as a caregiver is setting aside time for yourself and the things in life that make you happy. Much like the way that you dedicate time to your loved ones, encouraging them to pursue their own happiness, you must do the same for yourself. If you enjoy being in nature, go for a short stroll around the lake. Watch an episode of your favorite show, bake a pie, soak in a relaxing bubble bath, or paint—Whatever it is that makes you happy, make a little time for yourself every day to do the things you love. A happy and healthy you is the best you.
7. Prioritize your own mental and physical health.
It may seem counterintuitive as a caregiver, but taking care of yourself and prioritizing your own mental and physical health actually allows you to better care for others. Caregiving is not meant to be at your own expense, sacrificing your personal needs for the sake of others. After all, if you are not at your best, how are you supposed to give others your best?
You know yourself better than anyone else does. Treat yourself the same way you would treat the loved ones that you care for. Listen to your body and don’t push your thoughts and feelings to the side. If something feels off, whether mentally or physically, go get it checked out. You are a valuable human being with worth and purpose, and just like your patients, you deserve only the best care.
Give You and Your Patient’s Life the Lift You Deserve
As a caregiver, you dedicate your life to supporting your loved ones so why not let Acorn give you and your patient’s lives a lift with a stairlift? Acorn stairlifts are dependable and reliable stairlift systems that help transport anyone that struggles to safely travel up and down the stairs to their destination. No longer will caregivers have to stress about helping their patients safely navigate a steep and slippery staircase.
Not only do stairlifts make our caregivers' lives easier by helping their patients, but they improve the lives of the users, as they can regain their mobility and ultimately experience more independence and freedom. Whether you have a staircase that’s indoors or outdoors, curved or straight, Acorn has a variety of stairlift models customized to fit your home and needs.
Contact Acorn Stairlifts today to receive your free, no-obligation stairlift quote and home survey. Start making caregivers’ and patients’ lives more carefree with the help of Acorn’s reliable stairlifts.