10 Ways to Cope With Caregiver Burnout

by Brittany McNabb

If you read our post yesterday about "12 Signs of Caregiver Burnout" and feel you are experiencing fatigue from putting all your effort into being a great caregiver, here are 10 ways that may help you cope.


"It's important to take care of yourself under these conditions, or you won't be well enough to take care of them." - cam32505

1. Invite others to visit your loved one to change things up. You simply might get tired of each other if it is just the two of you together all the time or in the house alone. Bringing new faces in the situation can give you both a break. Make sure you run the idea of visitors by your loved one to see if they are comfortable with it and who they might value coming by.

2. Take a day off of work. Sometimes when you are a caregiver work is work and then when you get home it can feel like work too. Get someone to cover for you at home and at work and take a day to do something for yourself. (And) Don't make yourself feel guilty about it!

3. Have an impartial friend to vent to about your situation. You may feel that you are "running your mouth" to family when you vent about your patient; if that is the case then it could help to find a third party that is not involved in the situation to talk about your negative emotions.

4. Have a hobby, activity, or group that is your own. As a caregiver, your life is taking care of their life. Have something that is just yours; it could be a hobby, going to the gym, a book club, or a support group that is your own. Think about what you like to do and do it for yourself. It could also help to make new friends that are not as involved with your situation as it involves cancer and your loved one.

5. Know your limit and when you need to go to a private place to let out your emotions. Maybe you just need to cry, scream into a pillow, or be alone for a few minutes. By getting your emotions out you will be able to return to the situation feeling more level-headed. This will also prevent you from taking things out on your patient.

6. Remember the difference between the unpredictable future and present.

"Just enjoy the time with him, please stop anticipating what will happen in the future and the pain that you will go through because there is no reason to live through that now." - lilymadeline

7. Leave it to the doctors to work towards a cure. While it might be your responsibility to organize the paperwork, manage the medications, and take care of your loved one at home - there is only so much you can do. You must leave the rest to the doctors and nurses.

8. Make an effort to talk about things other than cancer. Some WhatNexters suggest having conversations with their loved ones about their lives before cancer. For example, if you have a parent with cancer you can take quality time to find out more about their past and this will get both your minds off things for awhile.

"I do my best to take advantage of the time. Talk to him (the patient), try to get him to share family memories and experiences and record his stories or get them on video if you are able to. Ask him questions about his life, it probably is fascinating in many ways because all human lives are we just need to know where to look." - lilymadeline

9. When someone says "What can I do to help?" Say "Yes!" and give them a specific task.

"When you are burnt out is a perfect time to pull in someone that says "What can I do to help?" Let them know you could use a couple of hours to go for a massage, a haircut, lunch with a friend or just the gym. People want to help so give them something concrete to do." - kalindria

10. Prioritize the things that are important and eliminate other stressors in your life.

"I got rid of all the unnecessary activities in my life. Give up on unnecessary cleaning and other chores, also on seeing people I didn't want to see. So any "free" time was mine completely. I found I was trying to keep up with all my friends and that were actually another source of stress instead of joy. Free time for me is walking, reading a magazine(not enough concentration for a book) , or just slobbing in front of TV." - Joyex

Caregiver Patient Relationship

If you pay attention to signs of burnout and implement ways to cope, it could mean a better relationship with your patient and a happier life. Stress is inevitable but hopefully some of these ways will help you. What are ways that you cope when you feel you have given up? What would you suggest to other caregivers going through the same feeling?

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