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  • Tanya Josephs

How to Avoid Caregiver Burnout This Holiday Season With 7 Self-Care Ideas


Caregiver with head in hands

Caregiver burnout is a slippery slope that can lead to long-term health problems and also negatively impacts your mental health.


No amount of caregiving is too small. What you do matters. Others may take the time to acknowledge the selflessness and sacrifice that you make on a regular basis - but when was the last time you took time to appreciate yourself?


Caregiver Burnout

According to the CDC, 25% of Americans are caregivers, with 53% of those caregivers reporting a decline in physical and mental health. This directly impacts their ability to provide care (CDC, 2022).


Caregivers often experience a significant increase in daily stressors during the holiday season. While navigating caregiving tasks, work, and household chores, the addition of holiday demands can be too much.


You are caregivers to young children with a wide spectrum of medical, physical, social, and emotional needs. In meeting those needs, you are left at an increased risk for burnout on a regular day, let alone a holiday.


Burnout is defined as a psychological phenomenon that involves emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion. It is caused by continuous exposure to chronic stress. (Bezliudnyi, O., et al, 2019)


In this blog, we took a look at some signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout - as well as ways you can avoid it - and start taking care of yourself today. Because you deserve it.


Signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout

  • Low self-esteem

  • Exhaustion

  • Anxiety

  • Frustration

  • Lack of concentration

  • Social isolation

  • Poor coping behaviors (caffeine consumption, tranquilizers, licit drugs)

  • Headaches

  • Insomnia

  • Pain

  • Gastrointestinal issues

  • Hypertension

  • Decreased immune function

  • Anxiety and depression

  • Exhaustion (De Souza Alves, L., et al, 2019)

Once these signs and symptoms begin to show up in your reality, it is your body’s way of telling you things have gone too far. Moreso, it’s time to identify those stressors and seek help.


If you have a village - sound the alarms. Don’t be afraid to ask a family member or friend for dinner this weekend, or a couple of hours of childcare.


Too often we wait for someone to reach out, and become disappointed when no one does. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), no one is a mind reader. But there is no doubt your loved ones will show up when you call.


Don’t have a village? Seek resources in your community, such as in-home caregivers or respite care. Check the links below as a start.


https://www.homewatchcaregivers.com/home-care-services/child-care/

https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/respite-care.html



Person reading a book


Benefits of prioritizing self-care

  • Optimized caregiving skills

  • Improved mood and energy to handle your little ones

  • Reduced physical ailments that may be impacting your ability to care

  • Decreased risk of compromising medical diagnoses (e.g. high blood pressure)

ABIL-OT is invested in your well-being. We are also dedicated to the caregivers and families of our community. That being said, we are happy to provide any tools and resources we can.


Since the average caregiver is typically busy fulfilling the needs of others, we compilated quick and easy self-care ideas that you can use throughout your day.


Person walking on a greenway path

7 Simple self-care ideas:

  1. Dim the lights. Sneak away to a quiet space, dim the lights and enjoy the silence. Another option is playing calming music. Adding a diffuser with lavender oil will increase the level of relaxation even more. Just 15 minutes can be enough for a quick reset to get you through the next part of your day.

  2. Take a bath. A warm bath after a long day is what we all need. Infused bubbles, Epsom salt, or essential oils work to relax tense muscles and help you wind down.

  3. Go for a drive. A change of scenery can do a lot for your mind. Listen to an audiobook, podcast, or music. You can always just enjoy the scenery with the windows down.

  4. Step outside. Another way to get some fresh air! Spend a few minutes breathing in the fresh air on your front porch or take a brisk 10-minute walk around the neighborhood to get your blood flowing. Vitamin D can give you a little mid-day boost!

  5. Meditate. “I can’t hear myself think!” - sound familiar? Meditation quiets your mind and lets you focus on the basic function of breathing. Place your hands on your belly, then feel it rise and fall as you breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try it for 5 minutes and increase it by a minute or two each day.

  6. Read. Just as meditation quiets your mind, reading also gives your mind a break. Don’t underestimate getting lost in a good book!

  7. Practice gratitude. Write down 3 things you are grateful for daily to bring positive thoughts to the surface and change your perspective. Practicing gratitude has also been shown to decrease stress and improve your mood!


Our Community: Caregiver Connection

While you begin your self-care journey, don't forget to report back!


At this time, we have set up a way for caregivers to share their self-care wins. We encourage you to utilize the boxes in our lobbies labeled “Caregiver Connection”.


Feel free to write down what you’ve recently done to prioritize yourself, or what you plan on doing in the near future.


Sometimes, we forget that there is no award for doing it all. As they say, you can never pour from an empty cup. In other words - take care of yourself so that you can take care of others.


Lift each other up this holiday season - you are worth it!




References


1. CDC (2022) For caregivers, family and friends, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/aging/caregiving/ (June November 28, 2022).

2. Bezliudnyi, O., Kravchenko, O., Maksymchuk, B., Mishchenko, M., & Maksymchuk, I. (2019). Psycho-correction of burnout syndrome in sports educators. Journal of Physical Education and Sport, 19(3), 1585–1590.

3. De Souza Alves, L., Monteiro, D., Bento, S., Hayashi, V., de Carvalho Pelegrini, L., Vale, F. (2019). Burnout syndrome in informal caregivers of older adults with dementia: A systematic review. Dementia and Neuropsychologia, 19(4), 415-421.


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