Caring for someone can be both physically and emotionally draining. It’s important to remember that you need time to rest. Burnout can occur when a caregiver is stressed out for a long time. Burnout can make you angry, tired, unable to sleep, gain weight, feel helpless or hopeless, and pull away from other people.
Caregivers who are burned out are a great example of how long-term stress can hurt both mental and physical health. Chronic strain makes the body release stress hormones, which can cause tiredness, irritability, a weaker immune system, digestive problems, headaches, pains, and weight gain.
Your body does have built-in ways to protect itself from stress. The “relaxation response,” which is the body’s natural defence against stress, is controlled by the parasympathetic nervous system. You can make your body relax by doing mind-body activities like yoga, tai chi, meditation, and other deep relaxation techniques.
Consider five wellness techniques to ensure that you are getting sufficient rest and care:
1. A crucial component of self-care is having compassion for oneself.
Being kind to yourself is the first step to taking care of yourself well. When you practice self-compassion, you recognize that being a live-in caregiver is hard work and you stop listening to the harsh and critical voice in your head. You also give yourself permission to take care of yourself, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day.
Not being able to leave, whether because of a lack of time or energy, can be difficult. It’s possible that meeting your own needs will make you feel bad or even selfish. You need to know that self-care helps the caregiver stay calm, focused, and efficient, which is good for everyone.
2. Spend ten minutes each day practicing a straightforward kind of breath awareness.
Paying attention to your breathing is one of the easiest ways to get into a deep state of relaxation. The Harvard Medical School Guide to Yoga recommends breathing techniques like “breath awareness” and “paced breathing.” You could try the following:
- Find a way to sit on the chair or cushion that is comfortable for you.
- Close your eyes and pay attention to how you are breathing.
- When you have thoughts that take your mind off the present, just let them go and bring your attention back to your breathing
Take a deep breath in through your nose for the count of five, hold it and pause for the same amount of time, and then let it out for the same amount of time. Continue for 10 minutes. You can use different words instead of the counts, like “I’m drawing in a soothing and calming energy.”
Taking twice as long to breathe out as you do to breathe in will help you relax. You can do this by making your exhalation longer (10 counts). If it hurts to hold your breath, just shorten the time between when you breathe in and when you breathe out.
3. Experiment with mind-body practices
Mind-body practices not only improve one’s physical health, but they also increase one’s awareness of and deepen the mind-body connection. Yoga has been shown to reduce stress levels in caregiving communities, such as live-in caregivers tending to Alzheimer’s and cancer patients.
4. Make a priority out of maintaining a healthy diet and obtaining enough rest
It’s easy to overlook your own needs when helping others. Making sure caregivers get adequate rest and nourishment is critical. Make a ten-minute nightly ritual for yourself every day to achieve a better night’s sleep. You can integrate breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga into your night routine. Skipping meals can cause fatigue, so eat regularly.
Another way to avoid burnout is to eat a nutritious diet. Foods that are processed or high in refined sugars, both of which contribute to increased inflammation in the body, should be avoided by people who are under chronic stress. There is evidence that this can help reduce inflammation in the body. It’s advisable to avoid or consume less alcohol because it causes inflammation and disrupts sleep.
5. Join local caregiver support groups
Although keeping social appointments with friends and family can be difficult when providing senior care, it is critical to maintain social relationships in life to feel less isolated and avoid burnout.
Knowing you’re not alone and that others have similar experiences boosts your self-compassion. Hospitals as well as other community organizations frequently provide caregiver support groups.
Want to learn more?
Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at 1-855-410-7971, and we will be happy to assist. See more caregiver wellness tips in our information booklets or on our resources page.