5 ways to prevent caregiver stress and burnout

Stress is not a new thing when you are a caregiver. While, it’s not possible for caregivers to completely eliminate stress, but there are ways caregivers can reduce the negative effects on their bodies and mind.

According to the 2015 AARP report on caregiving, “Almost 40 percent of caregivers report feeling highly stressed in their role.”

The Cleveland Clinic defines caregiver burnout as “a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude — from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned.”

What are the symptoms of caregiver burnout? 

  • Disrupted sleep patterns, including insomnia or the feeling of never feeling rested
  • Altered eating patterns, including not being able to eat or overeating; significant weight gain or loss.
  • Increased smoking or a strong desire to start again after having quit.
  • Irritability, anger and sadness.
  • High levels of stress or anxiety.
  • Impatience.
  • The inability to handle your personal life
  • No time for personal care
  • Feeling emotional withdrawal.
  • Feeling trapped and isolated.
  • Thinking of disappearing or running away.
  • Not being able to laugh or feel joy.
  • Feeling hopeless most of the time

Solutions to caregiver burnout?

Have realistic expectations
It’s impossible to eliminate all stress, but you can minimize the effect it has on you. Set realistic goals, accept that you may need help with caregiving, and turn to others for help with some tasks.

Make conscious decisions to continually seek balance in your life.
You don’t always have to say yes to everything. Say “yes” to what you want to say “yes” to, and say “no” to what you want to say “no” to.

Take micro breaks
Anytime you can put that load of stress down will help, even if it’s only for 5 minutes. If that means taking 2 extra minutes in the bathroom to visualize yourself on a beautiful beach or to do some deep breathing, then do it.

Practice stress relieving strategies:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Yoga
  • Massage
  • Meditation

Get support
You need and deserve real breaks on a regular basis. It might sound impossible to get help with caregiving, but it’s possible to put together a team based on the resources available to you. Surround yourself with supportive people and share your feelings and emotions with the group.