Listen to your friends. If those around you have observed a change in your behavior or demeanor, take a minute and think whether what they are saying might me true. The first step in resolving burnout is to recognize that you are suffering form it. Be open to the observations of others.
Let go. No one person can do everything. Acknowledge that in your humanness you have limitations. Allow others to help; delegate responsibilities. Practice asking for help and learn to say “no” occasionally. Lower your expectations of yourself and others; your health and well-being are more important than perfectionist caregiving. Set your priorities and guard your own personal time.
Focus on your loved one’s strength. Build on strengths and capabilities that remain. Rather than focus on what your loved one cannot do, allow him or her to do whatever is still possible, even if the doing is slower than you might want or not as well done as you might like.
Learn relaxation techniques. Find some sort of relaxation outlet that works for you: exercising, listening to music, meditation, taking a walk, gardening, reading a book, taking a nap, talking with a friend. If necessary, find a nondestructive way to vent your very real frustrations.
Take care of your health. If you ignore your own health you won’t be much help to your loved one. Research indicates that situations of increased stress can lead to many unhealthful habits such as smoking, drinking, unwise drug use, overeating. It is essential that you maintain healthful eating, sleeping, and exercising habits and that you see a doctor when necessary.
Maintain a life outside your caregiving role. The role of caregiving can swallow you up. Develop new hobbies or skills, take classes that provide intellectual stimulation and personal growth. Keep regular contact with other people.
Keep a “burnout” role. Regularly record those events in your life that create stress. In a few weeks you will be able to identify your particular stressors, evaluate the situations and consider possible solutions.
Build a caregiving team. It is not necessary to face caregiving all alone. Ask close family members, other relatives and friends for assistance even if you think they won’t want to help. Have family brainstorming sessions to gather ideas that will only come out of group discussion. Work with the doctors, nurses, social workers, therapists and clergy to find workable solutions to your problems. Learn to trust others to help you.