Carer? Here’s how to avoid burnout
BEING a carer for others is a kind, compassionate and highly valuable role, often involving considerable time and mental effort with little recognition of its true impact. So it’s easy to neglect the small things that contribute toward your own health and wellbeing. ‘Many informal carers may feel guilty about taking time out for themselves. But remember, you’re doing the best you can with what you have, which may look different each day, so be kind to yourself,’ says occupational therapist Kate Sheehan (inset), of stairlift and home lift company Stannah. She advises carers to: TAKE a break: If you feel able, take time away from your caring role to do things that you enjoy, such as walking or going to the gym. If you are creative, do some drawing or painting or an activity you can easily pick up and put down. ▪ BE REALISTIC: Overscheduling appointments or creating long to-do lists, which you are then unable to complete, may result in feelings of frustration or disappointment. Establish what is realistically achievable.
▪ Try to open up: Consider sharing how you feel with someone, whether a friend, fellow carer or a professional. While practical support can be beneficial, so can a listening ear.
▪ COULD technology help? Automatic dispensers alert people when it is time to take medicines, while chair sensors and pagers notify you when the person you care for needs support or tries to get up unaided, so you can leave the room without worrying.
To help protect your mental health, it’s important to practice self-compassion and try to understand your limits. recognising the early warning signs of fatigue will help you take proactive steps to rest, relax and avoid burnout.