1. Shift your focus.
By allowing time to focus on you, you’re more apt to recognize early signs of chronic stress and caregiver burnout, explains psychologist Dr. Janet Scarborough Civitelli, who has worked with families and caregivers in hospitals and community mental health settings. “Many people don’t realize how gradually stress and burnout can creep up, or recognize the need for self-care until it’s too late,” Civitelli says. “Half the battle is being proactive and preventing burnout, which is better than needing to recover from it later.”
2. Set aside “you” time.
Civitelli suggests, “Even when you don’t feel you ‘need’ it because you’re a caregiver, you need it! Take some time doing something you love.” Having something visibly written on your calendar, like a book club meeting, will be a reminder that you’ve committed that time. Stick to it.
3. Look for your own support.
Caregiver support programs are available through hospitals, mental health agencies, and churches. Sharing your experiences with other caregivers will help you feel less alone and will “normalize” common feelings of helplessness, sadness, burnout, and frustration. If you believe you are depressed or anxious, you may want to seek a therapist’s help.