Originally published at: https://www.caregivercollective.us/blog/caregiver-burnout
How many countless articles on caregiver burnout don’t acknowledge how impossible caregiving can seem? (Too many!) We promise that this is not going to be one of them.
We’re going to guess you’ve heard about the benefits of moving the body to relieve stress, deep breathing, connecting with others, creative outlets, and faith to prevent burnout. By now, it’s likely you know all the burnout prescriptions.
Most caregivers are willing to do this self-care. But, honestly, the obstacles between caregiving and self-care are often insurmountable and unfathomable to others.
We reflect on when we were caregivers for our mom. How our mom – someone with ALS – lost her physical abilities and became in a sense trapped in her body, yet she developed resilience and a mindset that was freeing.
She acknowledged she had control over her thoughts. She could choose to wake up in the morning to go for it despite her circumstances and not knowing how things are going to develop and play out over time. She approached finding joy intently. There was a vast amount of suffering, both physically and emotionally, but still, she trusted that each day had possibility.
It’s kind of radical to say that when you’re in the depths of burnout, it’s possible to still find moments of joy.
For caregivers, this is possible too.
The Superpower To Soothe Burnout
The best approach for caregivers is deciding to respond to situations in empowering ways and to skillfully process thoughts and emotions. Developing this superpower soothes burnout, and here’s how to do it:
First, we must drop any hang-ups or resistance we have to accept that we need to do this inner work of attending to our mental and emotional wellbeing to survive being a caregiver.
Secondly, caregivers fundamentally need acknowledgment – by ourselves and others – that our experience is super hard. We need to express these frustrations, and we want people to relate to and connect with.
Mindfulness For Caregivers
When caregivers acknowledge that this is really hard it often brings up painful thoughts and emotions we have not faced. We may realize – okay, that exists – and yet, we don’t have to let it prevent us from taking care of ourselves, connecting with others, or keeping our hope.
This is a kind of mindfulness that we don’t have to add to our schedules. It’s a habit change and shift in mindset. Incorporating mindful awareness like this is an incredible tool a caregiver can use to respond to difficult situations developing resilience to continue on.
Breaking The Surface
Caregiving can feel like trying to survive in a dark huge body of water. People are shouting at you to get on the life raft, but you cannot figure out how to even break the surface.
Acknowledging difficult emotions and unhelpful patterns that weigh you down can help you rise to the surface and climb on the raft.
Once we’re on the raft, we can regain strength and perspective. We can build new tools, survey the horizon in a different way (perception is everything). We grow empowered in our ability to navigate rough waters.
We know that it seems tough to be this type of confident seafarer. Remember all the times we’ve survived, though. Remember that actually, multiple times throughout a day caregiving provides countless tales of resilience and survival.
As promised, we will never suggest caregiver burnout can be solved by slapping a little traditional self-care on it. What we do know is that caregivers develop resilience that eases burnout through inner work and learning deeper self-care tools.
Do you find yourself facing caregiver burnout? If so, we invite you to check out the Caregiver Collective, a space where we’ll share with you practical tips & tools to make life as a caregiver easier, where you’ll gain more confidence & joy in your caregiving role, and avoid caregiver overwhelm & burnout.
Visit our website to learn more: https://www.caregivercollective.us
Caregiver Collective co-founders, Laura, an occupational therapist, and Cassandra, mindfulness teacher and wellbeing coach, have joined forces to answer the call to help women on their journey as caregivers, providing the support, resources and community that they wish they’d had, and know that women caregivers need. They show caregivers, through their personal experience and professional work as an occupational therapist working with caregivers and their loved ones every day and mindfulness teacher, wellbeing coach and mother, how they made the switch to being able to skillfully navigate difficult emotions, implement practical caregiver tools, and feel happy again about answering the call to be a caregiver.