CARING FOR THOSE WHO CARE
Self-care is a universal necessity, particularly following a demanding workday.
This holds true not only for individuals in formal caring professions but also for those who engage in informal caregiving.
A substantial portion of Australians, around one in 10, generously provide informal care to their loved ones without being paid.
Consequently, there are approximately two and a half million Australians who constantly balance nearly round-the-clock care responsibilities, often experiencing overwhelming burnout.
This accumulated stress manifests as carer’s fatigue or burnout, underscoring the utmost importance of self-care for their wellbeing.
Can carers burnout?
Yes. Carer’s burnout is when a person enters a state of complete physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion.
It can affect anyone who is a caregiver, any member of our support networks, who helps an individual with the activities of daily living.
While caring for someone else can be rewarding, it is also stressful and challenging.
If all your focus is on another person, it can be easy to forget to look after yourself.
While carer’s burnout is commonly associated with people in caring professions, or who care for older loved ones, it can also affect:
- New parents
- Foster parents
- People caring for a loved one with a disability
- Grandparents looking after a grandchild
- Looking after a loved one after being discharged from medical care
- People juggling caring, work, and other commitments
- People working in caring professions such as nursing, counselling, aged and disability care
Signs to look out for
ConnectAbility Australia highlights some signs of carer’s burnout to look out for in others or yourself:
- Lower energy levels
- Sleep deprivation
- Reduced immunity
- Feeling helpless and hopeless
- Becoming more impatient and irritable
- Difficulty relaxing, even when help is available
- Increased exhaustion, even after sleeping or taking a break
- Caring, along with the things you usually do, gives you little satisfaction
Why caring for yourself is essential too
Recognising and acknowledging how we are feeling is the first step to progressing out of feelings of burnout.
It is possible to navigate feelings, even if they’re overwhelming, even when fatigued or burnt out.
This allows us to understand the reason behind our emotions, helping us feel more in control.
Negative emotions can lead to negative thoughts, unchecked, these can have a wide-reaching effect on our work, relationships, and the person/people we care for.
When we recognise our emotions and thoughts, it makes it easier to know what we need help with, and how to ask for it.
How to care for those who care
Looking after ourselves empowers us to be a better carer, loved one and friend.
Dementia Australia recommends a number of ways we can better support the carers in our lives:
- Keeping in touch
- Encourage them to take a break
- Help, or find ways to share some of the responsibilities
- Invite them to an outing or an event together
- Encourage them to seek support if they need it
- Help them look after their physical health
- Support them to maintain good mental health
Self-care tips for carers
Putting your needs first can feel conflicting, but it is worthwhile to do.
Taking full charge of your wellness sets a good example for the people around you.
There are ways you can balance your needs and take some time for yourself using some of these self-care strategies:
- Learn stress management techniques
- Don’t be afraid to talk to a professional, or people who understand
- Do your best to eat well and get enough exercise
- See your friends
- Work on getting enough sleep
More support is available with tailored content and programs designed for you – delivered by Springday.
- Self-care for carers: How to avoid caregiver burnout – ConnectAbility Australia
- 7 tips for supporting carers – Dementia Australia
- Taking care of YOU: Self-care for family caregivers – Family Caregiver Alliance
- 9 things you should and shouldn’t say when supporting someone – R U OK?