Have you been suffering from caregiver burnout recently? You are certainly not alone. Almost every caregiver experiences exhaustion at some point. After all, caregiving is a tough job that can test you emotionally, mentally and physically. If you don’t look out for your own well-being over time, the stress of being a caregiver can really take a toll on you. To avoid burnout from happening to you in the first place, follow these 5 tips.

Take Care of Yourself

The first rule to avoiding caregiver burnout is to practice self-care, both on the job and during your down time. How do you expect to take care of others if you don’t take proper care of yourself? Make it a priority to adopt healthier eating, exercise, and sleeping habits.
A fit, healthy, and well-rested body is better able to handle the stress that comes with being a caregiver. Try to schedule “me time” into your daily routine as well. Outside of work, find activities that make you feel happy or relaxed, whether something like yoga, a hobby such as woodworking, or a new sport, or fun outdoor activity.

Join a Support Group

The very nature of being a caregiver can lead to feelings of anger, stress, frustration, hopelessness and sadness. Keeping these feeling bottled up does no good for your well-being. If you are beginning to feel emotionally overwhelmed with your job, the best thing to do is talk to someone. You’d be surprised how many people out there feel the same way you do.
Caregiver support programs are available through hospitals, churches and mental health agencies. Sharing your experiences with other caregivers will make you feel much less alone and help you pick up coping strategies for those negative emotions. Sometimes all you need is someone in your corner who understands what you’re going through. 

Talk to Your Management

Caregiver burnout is often caused directly by a poor working environment. Most of the time, these are issues that can be fixed by management. If you believe that both your work and health is suffering from a poor working environment, don’t be afraid to express your concerns to your manager.
You might try suggesting specific strategies that would improve your work-caregiving balance. For example, a flexible schedule, or a certain day off during the week. Often, your supervisor will take your suggestions on board. For example, perhaps all you need is a quiet space at work where you can recharge during breaks. If you haven’t got a space like this already, ask your manager if it’s possible to create a dedicated break room where you and your colleagues can relax. Or if you work in home care perhaps you might use your car as a place of refuse. Your car can be a calming place to listen to light music or where you can place a special car scent to help you unwind between client visits.  

Find a Creative Outlet 

Self-expression can be incredibly rejuvenating and healing. Everyone has their own preferred creative outlet, whether it be gardening, landscaping, playing music, sewing, journaling, or scrapbooking. For caregivers or anybody with an emotionally draining job, having a creative outlet to turn to can be great for the mind and soul. It provides a great distraction from the daily stresses of work and can help you feel calmer and much more centered, productive, and confident.

Re-prioritize Your Schedule

Overworking is a leading cause of caregiver burnout. This is because caregivers become so accustomed to putting other people’s needs above their own, that it becomes challenging to say no. They may end up doing more than their fair share of work because they just don’t want to let anybody down. Over time, the stress and physical exhaustion of being a caregiver can become too much.
To avoid this from happening, look at the amount of work you are doing and ask yourself if you need to cut back. Have you been doing extra shifts because your co-worker couldn’t make it? Have you been neglecting other areas of your life because of your job? Remember, putting yourself first doesn’t make you a bad caregiver. You will be a more effective caregiver if you are in a happier and healthier state of mind.
To avoid freelance burnout, Harper takes a few writing breaks between tasks to re-energise. Even fifteen minutes daily out in nature for some vitamin D certainly does wonders for the mind and body. Follow Harper and her work on Tumblr.