Caregiver Burnout: Avoiding Energy Slumps

Posted by Hilary Young on August 04, 2014

Caregiver Burnout: Avoiding Energy Slumps

Written by Guest Blogger Rachel Goldberg

Energy renewal is important to perform at your best each day. Humans have what is known as an ultradian rhythm, meaning every 90-120 minutes energy starts to decline. Working straight through an entire workday without taking a break causes major energy depletion, leaving people fatigued each day and makes it difficult to get through an entire workweek. Being a caregiver is a very rewarding role, however it can be stressful and exhausting. Taking time to check in with your energy levels and taking short breaks allows your energy to reboot and can renew energy before experiencing a complete depletion.

The first thing to do is to notice your energy peaks and slumps. Keep a log of how you’re feeling every two hours and after a week of noting down these observations, try to work these practices in about 15-30 minutes before your energy drops begin. Below is a list of a few simple strategies caregivers can employ to keep your energy from taking a deep dive and to maintain your highest level of care.

Take breaks

Take ten minutes to listen to soothing music, meditate, or to somehow responsibly disengage from work. Always be mindful of the person you’re taking care of, but if your loved one takes naps or rests, take ten minutes during this time to give yourself a break. These short breaks allow the brain to rest and renew your physical and mental energy.

Create a meditation practice outside of work

Meditate for 10-20 minutes before heading into a caregiving situation. Mindfulness meditation will allow worries, fears, or anxiety-producing thoughts to come to the forefront of your mind in a non-confrontational way. This practice helps to clear your mind in a non-judgmental and noncritical manner. A meditation practice also improves sleep, sleeping well the night before will help with energy throughout the following day.

Stop multi-tasking

Fully engaging in a task actually makes the task more enjoyable and makes people more efficient. Always be responsible and mindful of the person of whom you’re taking care, but when you’re completing a specific duty, keep your focus on that one task rather than multitasking. This allows the job to be completed in less time and with a smaller margin of error.

Gratitude journal

Note down 3-5 things you’re grateful for each morning before jumping into caregiving duties. Expressing gratitude develops positive emotions and relieves stress. Negative emotions are more taxing and tiring on the body. At the end of the day, reflect on those things to bring the energies of your emotions and spirit back up.

Breathing exercises

Check in with your breathing and see if you’re taking long inhales and exhales or if your breath is short, choppy, or otherwise interrupted. Your short breaks every 90-120 minutes can be to sit and engage in three-part breathing or alternate nostril breathing. This balances hemispheres of the brain and replenishes oxygen in the system.

Caregiving is an admirable, important role but it is imperative to take care of yourself as well. Checking in with your energy and maintaining your health will help you enjoy your work as well as avoid caregiver burnout. Try a few of these strategies and see which ones work best for you.

Rachel Goldberg is a life coach and yoga instructor based in Philadelphia. She has a great passion for helping people and believes all of the answers we have to life’s questions are held deep within us. They can be buried underneath extra weight, emotional scars, or a lack of mental clarity.  Find out more at www.yoga-wings.com.


TAGS: caregiver burnout