Self-Care for Care Providers: How to Cope When You’re Facing Burnout

Practicing self-care is so important to professional care providers but also to family members in this position as caregiver. Burnout is a very real risk facing persistent stress and exhaustion. While it can be tough to make time for yourself, practicing self-care is vital to preserving your mental and physical health. Oscar Senior shares some ways to stay on top of your well-being.

Make Time for Exercise

Exercising every day can make all the difference in your stress levels, daytime energy, mood, and quality of sleep. If you’re a senior yourself, exercise is vital for keeping your muscles strong and flexible, preventing falls, and reducing your risk of dementia. Thankfully, you don’t have to block off a whole hour to enjoy these fitness benefits. Get moving during whatever free time you have — even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Head out on a walk, fit in a quick yoga routine, or have a dance party for one (check out this great playlist). According to the National Institute on Aging, regular exercise is important for people with Alzheimer’s, too, so try taking walks with your ailing loved one.

Try Relaxation Exercises

Chronic stress can be very damaging to our brains and bodies, so it’s important to find ways to relax. Try out different relaxation exercises until you find a few strategies that you can turn to when you’re feeling overwhelmed. For example, many people have luck with progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, meditation, guided imagery, and yoga. If you’re having trouble getting to sleep at night due to stress or worry over your loved one, incorporating some of these relaxation techniques into your evening routine may help shut your mind off.

As a tip, a good wearable like a fitness tracker can help you better stay on top of the last couple of points. The Apple Watch, for instance, has both built-in fitness tracking and deep breathing reminders throughout the day.

Pack Your Diet With Nutrients

When you don’t have a lot of time to cook healthy meals, it can be hard to get all the nutrients your body needs to stay energized. Taking a multivitamin can fill in those nutritional gaps in your diet. Even if you typically eat well and exercise regularly, a good multivitamin can help boost your energy, stabilize your mood, and support your gut health. Just remember that multivitamins work best when combined with a nutrient-packed diet.

Try meal-prepping on the weekends and learning healthy recipes that come together quickly to make healthy eating more accessible on a limited schedule. Quick breakfast ideas include cottage cheese with pineapple, homemade oatmeal with chopped apple or an egg, toast and fresh fruit. For lunch, a mixed green salad with some chicken and a slice of whole-grain bread, hummus on pita with fresh tomato or even a vegetable frittata. 

Make the Most of Your Healthcare Coverage

The healthcare system plays a very important role in our overall health and well-being. Regular visits to the doctor are essential for catching problems before they become serious and finding ways to mitigate the risks of age-related conditions. If you’re a senior, review this year’s coverage to determine whether you need to revaluate your coverage when Medicare’s open enrollment opens again.

Don't be Affraid to Ask for a Help

At the end of a long day at work, the last thing you want to worry about is piles of laundry, paperwork, scattered toys or overflowing drawers and closets. Not only does this create a difficult environment, but it adds a significant amount of stress you don’t need. Find someone to help with the housekeeping so you don't have to spend a weekend or two cleaning and reorganizing. 

Stay Connected to Your Support Network

Social support is invaluable to anyone coping with stress. According to Verywell Mind, different kinds of social support carry different benefits. Emotional social support means having people to listen to your concerns and validate your feelings while information social support involves receiving advice and guidance that can help you overcome specific challenges. Tangible support includes the sharing of resources like money or food.

Find people in your life to fulfill all of these support channels. For example, your elderly clients medical care team can be a valuable source of informational support while your neighbors may provide helpful tangible support by bringing over meals or offering childcare duties. Don’t hesitate to ask people in your support network for a hand when you need it!

Try not to feel guilty about self-care. Providing care shouldn’t come at the expense of your own health and well-being. When your batteries are charged, you’ll have a much easier time providing the care and support that your elderly clients need.

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