Tips to prevent carer burnout
There are 2.65 million unpaid carers in Australia dedicating their time and energy to supporting a loved one. It’s a deeply rewarding role, but it can also be physically and emotionally draining. If you don’t take precautions, you can experience exhaustion, stress, and even burnout.
Here are some ways you can take care of yourself, while still providing the best possible care for your loved one.
- Do the things you love.
You can’t keep giving if your own cup is empty. Prioritising self-care means taking time out for yourself – without the guilt. If you’re not sure what fills your cup up, try writing a list of activities that make you feel physically, mentally and emotionally rewarding. Whether it’s walking the dog, spending time in nature, doing something creative, or playing a sport, self-care is crucial for maintaining your wellbeing.
- Talk to someone.
Caring for someone with a disability or an elderly family member can be isolating. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support. This could be joining a support group, seeing a counsellor, relying on other family members, or simply having coffee with a friend. Sharing your thoughts and concerns with people who provide a listening ear can be immensely comforting.
- Set realistic expectations.
Remember: you can’t do everything, and it’s okay to ask for help! While it’s understandable to feel the pressure of having someone rely on you, remind yourself that you’re only human. Break tasks into manageable pieces, prioritise what truly needs to be done, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
- Take time out regularly.
Make sure you carve out time for regular breaks. Respite care, when is when someone else looks after your loved one for a short period of time, can provide a much-needed break for family members. This time allows you to recharge and tend to your own needs, so you can provide care in the long term.
- Look after your sleep and nutrition.
Maintaining a balanced diet and getting a good amount of sleep is essential for your wellbeing. While it’s easy to neglect your own needs when caring for someone, eating nutritious meals and getting enough rest is important. If you take the time to eat well and get enough rest, your body will thank you!
- Move your body.
Physical activity can boost your energy levels, reduce stress, and improve your overall health. It doesn’t have to be slogging it out in the gym (unless that’s what you love doing!) – going for a walk, doing a dance class, swimming, or yoga are fun ways to enjoy moving your body while getting the exercise you need.
- Try relaxation techniques.
Meditation, breathing exercises or visualisation techniques offer a powerful way to improve mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, and promoting relaxation. If you’re new to the practice, try something simple like getting a breathing app for your phone. You can do guided exercises wherever you are, and it can take as little as five minutes!
- Organise your time.
Efficient time management can be a game-changer for carers. If you feel overwhelmed, try creating a daily schedule to better organise your time. This can reduce stress and help you feel more in control of the day ahead.
- It’s okay to set boundaries
It’s normal to feel guilty for wanting time to yourself or saying no to additional responsibilities. Remember that you can’t run on empty – you need to take care of yourself to be helpful to others. Setting boundaries is important to protect your own wellbeing., even if it means delegating tasks, asking for help, or saying no when you need to.
- Stay Informed.
Understanding the specific needs of the person you are caring for can help reduce stress. If you are able, try staying informed about their condition, treatment options, and available resources. Your care provider can help you, along with your loved one’s GP or other healthcare professionals.
- Practice acceptance.
Caring for a person with a disability or an elderly loved one can involve challenges and setbacks. Try practicing acceptance: understand that you cannot control everything, and some aspects of the situation are beyond your influence.
- Hire a carer
Government-funded care means that home care services are accessible for everyone who needs help, provided they are eligible. If you have never explored options for your loved one, visit My Aged Care and consider applying for an assessment. If you’d like someone to chat to, the team at Home Caring are more than happy to assist.
By prioritising self-care, seeking support, setting realistic expectations, you can help prevent burnout, provide better care, and look after your wellbeing.