When you love someone, caring for them doesn’t seem like a burden. You may jump in with a willing spirit, arms open wide, and be grateful that you can help them. You want to help them feel better. That’s wonderful and anyone who performs this service is truly a hero.
Are you that person? Do you have times of feeling satisfied and proud? Good! You deserve to feel that.
However, you may have other emotions that are just as normal. Do you often feel tired and overwhelmed? Discouraged? Unappreciated? You may be experiencing caregiver burnout. This is a very real problem and is dangerous for your physical and mental health.
These feelings often stem from physical and mental fatigue which is a natural result of doing too much and sleeping too little.
So the secret to avoiding caregiver burnout is getting more sleep.
Your thoughts may have immediately gone to all the reasons you can’t even THINK about sleeping! But, for your own health and well-being, you need to make this a priority. Sleep deprivation negatively affects every part of our bodies from brain function to appetite control.
Here are a few ideas to help you make sleep a priority.
- Set the scene. Make your bed soft and inviting. Set a bedtime, and stick to it. Do not turn on the television, bring a phone or laptop to bed, or read anything possibly upsetting. Soft music may help you release some stress. Close your eyes and concentrate on tightening and relaxing each body part. Practice slow breathing. Keep a notepad and pen next to your bed so that if you can’t stop your mind from racing with to-do items, you can write them down without getting out of bed. If you are taking care of someone in the home, consider a baby monitor so that you don’t have to keep getting up during the night to check on them. Don’t panic if you can’t sleep. You are still benefiting from lying down and being quiet.
- Limit the Caffeine. Coffee or other caffeinated drinks may get you started and seem to keep you going, but they are reducing your chances of a truly restful sleep. Try to limit caffeine after noon and see if you fall asleep more easily and/or feel more rested.
- Limit the alcohol. A glass of wine may seem like just the thing to help you fall asleep, but it can end up disrupting your rest one to two hours later.
- Ask for help. There IS help out there and you need to make it a priority to get it so you can take a nap or go to bed earlier.
- Accept help. It can be difficult to accept help. You must get over this and let people help you so that you can take care of yourself.
You may be the best caregiver in the world, but if you don’t take care of yourself, you will be of no use to anyone. It’s perfectly alright to love and take care of yourself.
Now go, get some rest!
Diana Fletcher is a writer, life coach and activist living in Pennsylvania. She is the best-selling author of Happy on Purpose Daily Messages of Empowerment and Joy for Women revised and expanded edition. Diana can be reached through her website at www.dianafletcher.com
Kudos Magazine Volume 7.2 By Diana Fletcher