Burnout among caregivers for stroke patients is unfortunately common.
The demanding circumstances of caregiving often create stress and pressure that can take a toll on your physical and emotional health.
To help you out during this time, we will discuss the symptoms of burnout so that you can see if it describes you.
Then we will share 7 tips to help caregivers reduce burnout.
Symptoms of Burnout in Stroke Caregivers
Do any of these symptoms of caregiver burnout describe you?
- Neglecting other responsibilities
- Excessive drinking
- Excessive eating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Lack of energy
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you’re at risk of (or have already reached) caregiver burnout.
Not only does this threaten your health, but it also jeopardizes the health of the survivor you’re providing care for.
We want both parties to be happy and healthy so that recovery is maximized.
That’s why we developed these tips for you to avoid caregiver burnout:
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help
Let’s admit it, sometimes asking for help is hard. We feel sheepish, guilty, fearful, or whatever lame excuse we can come up with. We know that we should do it, but something is always holding us back. Can you relate to that?
If so, remember this: Asking for help is healthy for both parties! If you avoid delegating your monstrous workload, you’ll burn yourself out and then you and your survivor are left with nothing but fumes to run on.
Do it for the good of both parties and express your needs to family and friends, even if you’re not sure how they’ll respond.
2. Establish a Social Support System
Create a list of people that you can count on, and let them serve as your safety net.
Knowing that you can call on these people at any time will help put your mind at ease and reduce your stress level.
You can also start saving time and money by delegating small tasks that are inconvenient for you to someone who will find it more convenient.
For example, if your sister is going to be at the grocery store at some point in the week, have her pick up the groceries you need instead of making the trip yourself.
Once you become comfortable asking for help, create a list of the people who respond favorably to your needs so that you can continue to use their help.
3. Share the Workload Among Friends and Family
Do you feel like the caregiving workload for your loved one is distributed unevenly?
Do you find yourself doing almost all the work yourself?
This is actually very common among primary caregivers. But that doesn’t make it okay.
To avoid resentment, hold other family members accountable for their share of the responsibility.
4. Don’t Feel Guilty for Taking Time to Yourself
Do you remember the last time you went out and saw your friends? Or better yet, did it without feeling guilty?
It’s hard to allow yourself to do something for you when you feel completely responsible for another human being. However, that feeling is exactly what leads to caregiver burnout.
Realize that taking breaks is good for your emotional health, and you’ll be able to give better care if you take some nights for yourself.
So go out! Have fun! And and feel guiltless because you’re doing it for the good of both parties.
5. Don’t Neglect Stress-Reducing Exercise
Movement is simply good for you! Most caregivers, however, don’t think they have time for exercise due to a self-sabotaging guilt complex.
Don’t let your devotion to taking care of another person allow you to neglect your own health! This can lead to poor health and excessive amounts of stress – which we know can eventually lead to stroke! We don’t want that.
Exercise within itself is an excellent stress reliever because it releases endorphins, the feel-good hormone! It will help clear your head and allow you to sleep well at night – the perfect formula for a happy caregiver.
6. Realize the Difference You’re Making
Let’s quickly assess your situation: you’re making a significant difference in someone else’s life by providing them with care and attention. That’s something to feel good about!
And while it’s easy to lose sight of that as you carry out your daily activities, we need to remind ourselves of this fact periodically. You’re giving back in the best way and that’s an anti-depressant within itself.
7. Start a Gratitude Journal
We know this may sound backwards, but writing down all the things that you’re grateful for every morning can seriously help reduce burnout.
By training your brain to find things to be grateful for, you will prime your day with gratitude instead of resentment.
Because neuroplasticity isn’t just important for stroke patients – it’s useful for everyone.
And the more you practice finding gratitude, the more grateful you will naturally become.
Realistic Goals for Stroke Caregivers
These tips should help stroke caregivers avoid burnout, but that doesn’t mean the road will be easy.
As a caregiver, you have a responsibility and workload that many people can’t understand or see. This can cause all those symptoms we listed earlier, like stress and depression.
These tips will help make things a little easier, but it might still be hard work — and that’s why it’s so important the share the workload when you can and take time to care for yourself.
We know how demanding life can be for stroke caregivers, so we hope you can take a moment to cherish yourself for the positive impact you’re making in someone’s life.
You’re amazing! And don’t you forget it.