How can caregivers prevent or remedy burnout?
The juggle is real! It can be challenging for parents and caregivers to manage it all. Kayla discusses some ways in which you can find balance and sanity.
I am a caregiver for young children, and recently have been feeling really stressed. I know my job is to care for other people, but I’m finding that I’m always on the go, and have recently realized that I’m allotting little-to-no time just for me. I’m feeling really fried. Do you have any tips on setting boundaries and remedying this in a healthier way than over-indulging on the vino? I appreciate any guidance you have!
Thanks so much for the question! Caregiver burnout is definitely a common topic of discussion, so first, know that you are not alone! And kudos to you for recognizing that something in your life needs to change. For many, coming to this conclusion is the most difficult part.
To start, let’s talk about boundaries. Setting boundaries for yourself isn’t a selfish act, and it’s important to remember this. Many caregivers tend to struggle with setting boundaries with their kids, spouses, work, hobbies, and friends. Society tells us that primary caregivers are supposed to be a never-ending well of resources and support without needing to be filled themselves. When you operate from this mindset, you can easily feel burnt out and undervalued.
So this next week, I challenge you to find the small moments in your day to recenter your thoughts and energy back to yourself. This can look like waking up 15 minutes earlier in the morning to have time for a mindfulness activity (journaling, listening to calming music, setting your daily intention, meditation, yoga, making your favorite cup of coffee, etc.). Taking this time for yourself at the start of your day allows you to feel more centered and less frazzled. Then, as you move throughout your day, allow yourself a few moments to take several deep breaths, focusing on breathing in your daily intention and exhaling one piece of stress at a time. Actively being more mindful about what you need to function at your best for yourself and your family is the first step to creating a healthier life!
Further, the CareNectar team has written about the importance of caregiver self-care. We understand that your needs get pushed down to the bottom of your list of priorities, and it’s time to take steps to reprioritize them. This means being realistic about your schedule and the tasks you need to complete. Be sure not to feel bad for not completing everything you want to do, and instead focusing on yourself. Read more about the CareNectar Kit on the importance of self-care for caregivers here, which includes guidance on how to prioritize household tasks, tips for creating a personalized self-care list just for you, and an activity on how to manage your daily schedule. We also have some additional self-care activities described here.
We hope these tools work for you. And while this may be a slow process, try starting with a few small activities for yourself until they become part of your daily routine. As you continue to practice self-care, please share other tips and resources you’ve come across that help you destress and avoid burnout.
Meet The Expert
Kayla Thomas is first year Internal Medicine - Pediatrics resident at University of Illinois- OSF Saint Francis in Peoria, Illinois. She graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with a degree in Biology and Intercultural Communications in 2017. She then went on to obtain her medical degree from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine- GA. During her medical studies, she placed a strong emphasis on providing care to underserved and underrepresented areas and has a passion for transitional care, equity, social justice, and wellness. In her free time, she enjoys reading, baking, drinking coffee, practicing wellness, and spending time with her family.