Although caring for someone, particularly if it’s someone you love and respect, is a very rewarding experience it can also be extremely demanding. Whether you are caring for your own parent(s), a partner or anyone else, you are probably already struggling with the pressure. Many carers are literally on call for their charge 24/7 which means that regular breaks from the responsibility are an absolute necessity.
If you are a carer, taking regular breaks will help you to avoid burnout which can manifest in a number of ways, and could leave you feeling exhausted, ill, depressed, guilty or even angry. No one should try to be a super-hero because taking care of yourself first is crucial; you will struggle to care for someone else if you don’t look after your own wellbeing.
Although it may feel like it is virtually impossible to take regular breaks you have to force yourself to find some downtime. Here are a few tips on ways to find that opportunity:
Learn to accept help from all those people who offer – if someone asks you if there is anything they can do to help always take them at face value and allocate some tasks. There are lots of things that other people can do which will free up some time to have a well-earned break:
- The laundry can be an endless chore – accept the help, including time-consuming tasks like
- Running errands for shopping or trips to the doctors
- Help with housework or the gardening
If you don’t have people chomping at the bit to give you a hand why not get some professional help:
- Housework is laborious and repetitive so hiring a cleaner should give you a couple of hours break – A good cleaner working through the house for a couple of hours every week probably won’t break the bank.
- Look into the possibility of getting some home care help or consider short-term stays/respite care in a residential facility if you need a longer break.
Whilst having a set routine can mean that your tasks are dealt with more efficiently, it can also lead to monotony. Sometimes a simple adjustment to the order in which you do things can offer a shred of relief and keep you out of a rut.
- Taking five minutes with a cuppa isn’t going to lead to the end of the world – short breaks can give huge energy boosts.
- Get outside as much as possible – never underestimate the restorative powers of fresh air.
- Do some physical activity – you may think you have no energy or time but you will make huge gains by having a brisk walk.
- Yoga or meditation can be a good way to maintain a calm and relaxed exterior.
- Do something creative whenever you get the chance –knitting, crochet or sketching can be picked up and put down easily whenever you get a break, plus doing something creative is a good way to divert your mind from any worries or concerns.
Every carer needs coping strategies in order to deal with the multitude of emotions that will be felt on any average day. Think of your breaks as a necessity rather than a luxury and make sure you take advantage of every opportunity to set aside your sense of duty. Continuously worrying and never taking a break will only lead to you becoming exhausted, depressed or unwell.