At Kind Lab, we talk a lot about the importance of prioritizing your own health & wellness. As much as we try to take our own advice, we know it can be hard, particularly for women.
Women are socialized to put other’s needs in front of their own, and as a result, often equate “self-care” with “selfish”. That means we’re more at risk of letting our own cups run dry. And for caregivers, that problem can be fast-tracked as we give out to those under our care while not going back to the well for ourselves.
If that sounds familiar, we see you. And we want you to know that self-care is anything but selfish. Think about it this way: you can’t fill other’s cups if yours has run dry.
How do I know when my cup has run dry?
Here are some of the signs:
- Lack of Motivation including loss of interest in things you previously enjoyed
- Social Withdrawal from friends, family, and loved ones
- Sleep Issues including trouble falling or staying asleep
- Sadness such as feeling blue, irritable, hopeless, and helpless
- Self-Neglect resulting emotional and physical exhaustion
If you’re experiencing the above, you may have caregiver fatigue, and you’re not alone. The last few years have been enough to any caregiver over the edge.
For those of us 45+, we’re simultaneously battling the effects of shifting hormones due to menopause, feeling the strain of caring for children as well as parents, and starting to experience the effects of time on our own health & wellness.
It can be overwhelming.
How do I overcome caregiver fatigue and keep my cup full?
When you have caregiver fatigue, everyone struggles – both you and those you’re caring for.
Give yourself permission to do something that only benefits you. Does that sound radical? It shouldn’t, but we understand and want to help you help yourself.
Here are 5 impactful ways you can put yourself first to overcome – and prevent – caregiver fatigue.
- Accept Your Feelings by letting go of the guilt or shame you may feel. They may like to call us superheroes, but even the strongest of us can become overwhelmed.
- Know (and Respect) Your Limits especially if you’re someone who never has enough time. Removing things from your plate, or simply stopping low-priority tasks, will help you understand what can and cannot be done in the time you have.
- Solve for Sleep as it’s one of the most critical components of our health and wellness. Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep on your ability to make it through your day with grace.
- Get Moving through exercise, which doesn’t have to be a major undertaking – a 15-minute walk outside will do wonders for your physical energy and mental well-being. Even choosing stairs instead of an elevator/escalator or parking far away to get in extra steps helps!
- Ask For & Accept Help whether that’s getting support for your own emotional needs or with your caregiving duties, there are people, places, and organizations that can help. Between therapists, doctors, non-profits, support groups, assistants, friends, and others, there is support out there so you don’t have to go it alone.
Taking care of yourself isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. If you’re experiencing caregiver burnout, the best thing you can do is to start prioritizing yourself and filling your own cup so you can keep showing up for those you love.
For more helpful information, visit our blog posts on How to Be Happy and Thrive, The Importance of Sleep (And How to Get It), and How to Make Habits Stick.