Taking care of your clients starts with taking care of yourself.
Caregiver burnout is a real problem for individuals who work to improve the lives of others. There are mental, physical, and emotional effects that come with supporting another human and doing everything you can to make them comfortable. Even low-maintenance clients can give home caregivers emotional burnout over time.
Everyone has unique ways of coping, but not every caregiving professional takes enough time to themselves. Here are a few self-care ideas to help you have a long, happy career taking care of those who need your support.
1. Recognize the Signs of Home Caregiver Burnout
The first step in preventing burnout is recognizing the signs. If you can identify its side effects, then you can learn to step back and take some time to yourself. A few symptoms of home caregiver burnout include:
- Lack of energy and overwhelming fatigue
- Changes in eating habits and increased susceptibility to illness
- Physical problems like headaches or other health issues
- Withdrawing from activities you used to enjoy
- Anxiety, depression, and mood swings
While you might write off headaches or fatigue as temporary problems, they could be signs of a more significant problem that will only go away when you take some time to yourself.
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2. Identify Sources of Overwork
Once you understand that you’re burnt out, you can take steps to discover why you’re so drained. Evaluate your physical and emotional conditions at work to see where you’re taking on more than you can handle. Maybe your client is going through problems with their family or health, and you have taken that on emotionally. Maybe you volunteered to complete extra tasks, and they’re wearing you out.
If you can see why you’re so drained, you can take healthy steps to push back on them in a way that extends your caregiving career.
3. Talk to Someone in Your Community
If you still can’t see where you’re overworking yourself, reach out to leaders in your community. From a professional standpoint, this might mean talking to another home caregiver or mentor who has been in your shoes. Personally, you could talk to a friend, faith leader, or even therapist about your mental state.
Caregiving as a career is emotionally-draining work. Professionals can help you understand why you’re struggling and work to find ways for you to improve.
4. Accept What You Cannot Control
If you notice yourself taking on the emotional burdens of your clients, then you need to train your mind to focus on what you can do to help. The Mayo Clinic says it’s normal for caregivers to feel guilty about things that are out of their control, often causing them to take on extra work to help.
When faced with bad news, focus on what you can do to help. If you focus on your work, you will last longer mentally and emotionally, making you a more excellent asset to your clients.
5. Take a Break from Caregiving
Look for ways to step back from your career to protect your mental and physical help. You don’t have to take a hiatus for several weeks, but you do need to schedule regular breaks to refresh and recharge. A few ways you can do this include:
- Leaving by a certain hour every day
- Taking weekends off and completely turning off work during that time
- Treating yourself to a long weekend once a month
- Using your vacation days – all of them – each year
It’s not uncommon for professional caregivers to volunteer to stay late once or offer to help on the weekend, only to make those offers permanent, turning a 40-hour per week job into a 60-hour per week problem.
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6. Set Personal Health Goals
Home caregivers can get so caught up in work that they forget to care for their health. Skipped meals, missed gym appointments, and late nights can all take a toll on your health and cause burnout.
Each month, set clear goals for yourself to take on to improve your health, and chart them in the same way you monitor your clients. One month you might set a goal to go to sleep before eleven each night. The next month you might try to eat breakfast every day. Keep adding as you work to improve your personal health.
By following these six tips outlined above, caregivers can stay happy and healthy, and reduce overall burnout.
Home Care Agencies: Take Care of Your Caregivers
As a home care agency, you rely on your caregivers to be at their best to take care of your clients, which means your caregivers depend on you to help them perform at their best.
By sharing these tips with your team, you can help ensure they are practicing self-care tips to stay happy and healthy. Print out this article and include it in your caregiver onboarding packet or email it to your existing caregivers.
Happy clients lead to a successful business, so be sure to check out our client satisfaction program that provides the valuable insights you need to retain caregivers and grow your home care business.
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