Family caregiving is a satisfying, worthwhile job, but it can also be stressful and demanding.
With Covid-19 in the mix, caregiving can become an overwhelming task for already stressed family members.
In addition to the usual stress and anxiety, caregivers experiencing burnout may experience extreme emotions, including depression, anger, and resentment.
As a caregiver, taking care of your mental health and overall wellbeing are important, especially during these unprecedented times.
Keep reading for some easy, realistic ways you can take care of yourself now and throughout your caregiving journey:
Reduce the Risk of Getting Coronavirus
Covid-19, like any serious illness, can add a lot of stress and worry to a caregiving situation. To help keep you and your loved ones safe, use the following CDC-recommended protocol:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Wear a mask that securely covers your nose and mouth
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others and avoid crowds
- Monitor your health daily – watch for fever, cough, and other common symptoms
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in your home often
Take Care of Yourself
You know that old saying, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy?”
The same is true of caregiving. If you’re not happy, healthy, and well, the person you care for will also suffer.
There are several simple, convenient things you can do to help keep yourself well throughout the year. These are our suggestions:
- Maintain an overall healthy lifestyle. In times of uncertainty, it’s easy to fall into an unhealthy routine. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating well, getting regular exercise, and keeping a normal sleep schedule can help boost your physical and mental well-being.
- Limit stress. Put the kibosh on stress by limiting your time on social media, avoiding upsetting news stories, and limiting contact with negative people. Instead, try spending time outdoors, connecting with loved ones, or taking up a new hobby like meditation or yoga.
- Improve sleep. As a caregiver, sleep is often the last priority. Unfortunately, lack of rest leaves you more vulnerable to both physical and mental health afflictions. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day and take measure to improve rest such as using a white noise machine or taking a melatonin supplement.
- Take breaks. Taking a long break may be an impossibility during your day. Instead, try to take several mini breaks when you can to help relieve stress and improve focus. Some suggestions include a quick walk around the block, sitting down for a cup of tea or a snack, watch a few minutes of cute animal videos on YouTube, or call a friend for a quick conversation.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. While everyone’s lives are different, we’re all going through this pandemic together. Reach out to friends and family who are familiar with your situation when you’re feeling too stressed or consider joining a caregiver support group.
Watch for Signs of Burnout
Caregiver burnout can happen at any time, in any relationship, but the risk is heightened during times of increased stress like the current pandemic.
Be aware of sign and symptoms such as:
- Overwhelming anxiety
- Increased fatigue
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Difficulty completing everyday tasks
If you suspect that you may be suffering from caregiver burnout, consider making more time for yourself. Ask a friend or family member for help if possible, or contact ComForCare for more information about our respite services.