7 Tips to Avoid Caregiver Burn-Out
Industry Perspective Caregivers often encounter prolonged stress leading to caregiver burnout. The “Power of 7” may be the prescription for better Sandwich Generation wellness.
Caregiving is often a marathon, not a sprint. According to a recent study by the National Alliance for Caregiving, caregivers perform their role, not for weeks or months, but on average for four years, with some spending 10 years or more caring for a loved one. This marathon caregiving journey can sometimes be accompanied by prolonged stress, a chronic condition that often cumulates into one of the biggest caregiver challenges: burnout.
Combating caregiver burnout becomes essential. In my book, I identify seven key areas to which caregivers need to try to apply healing, helpful techniques. The number seven is seen as a magical number in many cultures and throughout history—seven wonders of the world, seven colors in a rainbow, seven days in a week, seven dwarfs helped Snow White, the Seven Sisters constellation, also known as the Pleiades, guided ancient sailors on the seas, and so on.
While finding the time for stress-relief activity in an already hurried and harried caregiver schedule is difficult, the result will be increased stamina, improved mental acuity and better health and wellness to continue the caregiving marathon.
Here are tips for tailored to the Caregiver’s Power of 7:
While experts advocate that adults should get 150 minutes of exercise a week of exercise, getting consistently deep sleep is the most important physicialactivity for caregivers. Again, seven is the magic number––ensuring seven hours of restorative, uninterrupted sleep a night is crucial.
Eliminate noise pollution by unplugging 20 minutes a day. Put the smartphone on vibrate, turn off the TV and other noise makers. Just listen to your breathing, the rustle of the trees and chirping of the birds. The Danish people, who almost every year top the list of countries in global happiness surveys, call it “hygge” (pronounced HOO-gah) which means peaceful coziness.
Staying connected to family and friends is important even with the time-consuming tasks of caregiving. Grab a quick coffee with a friend or have a telephone conversation with a long-distance sibling. These connections keep caregivers in balance and open up opportunities to seek help and respite from those who can support you.
Have an outlet to vent and voice your fears, anxieties or frustrations. It will purge the toxicity of keeping these emotions bottled up inside. Whether it is a professional therapist or a support group of caregivers facing the same struggles, find ways to release some of the worry, sadness and anger.
Having a plan and the conversation around long-term care and costs is the first step to caregiver financial wellness. Lack of long-term care plans and limitations of perceived safety nets such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security can become a serious cost drain for caregivers. Talk to a financial advisor or an elder law attorney for expert guidance.
The ability to concentrate on something that takes our minds to a different place is shown to improve overall health. A recent study showed those who played a few minutes of an online game or brain puzzle reduced their stress levels by 61 percent.
Feeding the soul is as important as feeding our bodies. Find fulfillment in faith, music, art, yoga, tai chi, meditation, etc. These relaxing, calming activities remind caregivers to “let it go gracefully” to continue the caregiving journey.