Being a caregiver is demanding and tough anytime, but COVID-19 has created added stress to an already difficult role. COVID-19 has made some people caregivers overnight. For others who have been a caregiver for a long time, the current situation is adding a whole new element of concern. Now, more than ever, caregiver burnout is possible. If you’re fortunate enough to have support from family members and friends, that’s great. Not everyone gets that help. But even those who have assistance and back-up can fall victim to burnout.
What Is Caregiver Burnout?
According to Cleveland Clinic, caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion. Stressed caregivers may experience fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Those who are caring for their loved ones at home may be taking care of household duties as well as caregiving. Caregivers experiencing burnout may feel depressed or exhausted with very low motivation to engage in activities they enjoy.
As the area’s premier senior living community offering a senior lifetime continuum, including onsite independent living, respite services, personal care, residential memory support, skilled nursing and rehabilitation, long-term care or hospice care in our Hospice Pavilion, we are completely familiar with the demands of caregivers.
How To Make Life Easier For A Caregiver?
If you are a caregiver yourself or if you know someone who is managing everything alone, how can you make life easier for them? As a caregiver, how can you manage to take a few moments out of the hectic routine to find a balance or feel energized?
Here is a list of helpful activities that can alleviate stress and help you feel inspired. You can do it in bits and pieces, one day at a time, and see how these fit into your schedule. Even just a few minutes of self-care can restore balance and energize you. Go ahead, read the ideas and see what works best for you or someone you know:
Go For A Walk
It may like a simple activity, but it can work wonders. Walking is known to lower stress levels and improve mood. You don’t need any fancy equipment, you don’t have to drive to the gym, and you don’t have to leave your loved one for too long. Walking has also been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and keep you mentally sharp. If you feel you can never leave your senior loved one alone and you can rely on another family member to take over for a few minutes, step outside and breathe deeply. Taking those moments to step away for some time will help you feel refreshed.
Meditating may seem hard, but it’s not. Contrary to what a lot of people believe, it doesn’t mean that you have to empty your mind of all thoughts; it’s simply the act of letting thoughts flow freely through your mind without making judgement or acting on them. All you need is a quiet spot and focus your attention. If you need help with the practice of meditation, download apps on your phone that can help you through the process. Meditation has a ton of benefits and spending just a few minutes can bring calm and peace.
Reading is a great way to divert your mind and reduce stress. Mentally stimulating reads can benefit your mental health but if you’d rather opt for light reading material, you can download e-books on your phone or other reading devices. Reading will help tired caregivers focus on something other than their daily activities.
Talk To Your Friends
Caregivers may feel distant from their family or friends when they feel too overwhelmed, especially during a difficult time like this. You may feel like they won’t understand what you are going through, or maybe you feel guilty for sharing your true emotions. Friendships are often tested when one becomes a caregiver. But how will you know who your true friends are if you don’t share? Call or email your friends to catch up and support each other.
Watch Your Favorite Show
Catching up on your favorite TV show may help you unwind and relax. If you want to do this activity with your senior loved one, you can catch shows on Netflix that would be perfect for both of you! If you want to unwind by yourself, kick back and watch something you enjoy. These top five movies for caregivers might be a good place to start!
Art has healing and therapeutic advantages. If the canvas or a set of paints overwhelms you, just take a piece of paper and start sketching. There is no right or wrong method of sketching. Sketching and drawing is a great way to express yourself. You can draw your day, see what it looks like on paper and then slowly approach paints. Making art increases feelings of pleasure and happiness while reducing anxiety, stress and caregiver burnout.
Write Down Your Feelings
Writing has proven to be cathartic for many people. Writing is a form of expression and if you don’t want to share your feelings and thoughts with anyone else, write them down in the form of notes, poems, recollections or memoirs. You can create a caregiver diary, or you start an Instagram account with expressive photos, short notes or poems. You can share what you feel and maybe others will start doing the same.
Join Caregiving Forums/ Chats?
Caregiving forums are great for the exchange of ideas, solutions, and problems. You can ask others who are going through the same phase and/ or empathize with them. Caregiver forums and caregiver chat groups are perfect, especially if you can’t get away often. Many caregivers, family members, relatives, and friends find it beneficial to use these chat rooms as a caregiver resource because of the range of topics covered in the chat sessions. It’s a good way to connect with others and learn useful information that can help.
Dealing with COVID-19 is difficult for everyone, but we understand that it can be particularly difficult for caregivers. Take care of yourself and feel free to visit us to stay abreast of the current situation.