Caring for Ourselves: How to Combat Caregiver Burnout

Tips, suggestions, and a cool new service in California aiming to curb the stresses of caring for others through the love of leisure and recreational pursuits. 

The demand put on caregivers – whether it is your career, family obligation or otherwise is a tiresome task, and can be burdensome at times. As front line healthcare workers, recreation therapists and activity specialists we can start to feel out of sorts, overwhelmed, and stress right out! These feelings left unchecked can have severely negative effects in our work, our home lives, and our mental and physical well being. Caregivers in any capacity (even a fun field like recreation) need time to unwind, reflect on our feelings, regain that energy, inspiration and drive that led us to these professions in the first place. 
So What actually is burnout? And how do you catch it before it spirals out of control? Burnout is state of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion due to the stresses of caregiving. As healthcare professionals, we are all caregivers in some capacity and many times it feels like we need all the answers, we need to do ALL the things, fix all the problems. Some signs of caregiver burnout that you may notice are anxiety, depression, difficulty sleeping, trouble concentrating, neglecting responsibilities and neglecting leisure interests (no!!!) These symptoms can snowball and manifest into larger problems like catching a cold or illness every few months, getting little satisfaction from your job or outside interests, or you feel hopeless/helpless in all avenues in life. To avoid falling to these worrisome ruts you need to adopt a strong sense of emotional intelligence and practice certain viewpoints to keep your head above water. 
Some quick tips of combating caregiver stress & burnout include…
1. Accept Help! – Everyone feels they can tackle problems on their own. Its our job right? Programming for those in our facilities is our JOB, if we can’t do our job then what are we doing!? Don’t get in this mind set. EVERYONE  needs help and you should be able to lean on others within your workspace to aid  you with your work load or just an ear to vent. 
2. Focus on what you CAN do – As professionals, we tend to focus so much on what we can’t do or what we aren’t doing. What programs haven’t I tried? What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I get this right? Start thinking about all the things you are doing well, that have gone right, and all the clients you have helped! 
3. Connect with others – Being able to talk and connect with others in your field is a huge part in being able to combat the stresses of the job. That is one huge reason I started “What The Rec” in the first place! Ensuring those in the field have others to reach out to in times of need is a great way to have a social network of support and inclusion — you are NEVER alone in your struggles. 
4. Set Personal Goals – Being able to take a step back and not let your work consume your life is key to avoiding or climbing out of burnout. Set personal goals for yourself, do you like yoga? Make sure you go to your favorite class once a week! Do you like to read? Set a goal to read for an hour before you fall asleep each night. Setting personal goals, that are not related to your work life will help regain your work/life balance and ensure you are not constantly feeling stressed. 
5. Seek support/professional respite – If aiming to do what you love or find joy in is becoming tiresome, you are lost in what you might want to do, or maybe you just need a little more guidance on wading the waters of stress and burnout you might need the help of a professional. Some great options are a mental health therapist, psychologist, or even a recreation specialist that focuses on supporting and inspiring caregivers! 

Picture

I’m not going to brag (yes I am) our profession is pretty dang special. It allows us to work with an array of populations, for almost ANY reason — we aim to improve lives based on leisure interests. When I came across, the site for Mrs. G The RT, I thought “WOW! This is going to be something!”. Her private practice aims to enable caregivers from ALL walks of life in finding their passions, reducing burnout, and inspiring their leisure outlets. In her own words: 
Mrs. G the RT has worked with many ages and populations and has been unable to find one she didn’t enjoy helping to find happiness and joy in life.  While providing high quality care to clients during her career, she found that the providers are all so busy helping others, we rarely take the time we need to help ourselves and give ourselves the permission to rest and refresh with our own interests.  With this knowledge Mrs. G the RT decided to branch out and start a Private Practice Recreation Therapy Service to focus on providers and preventing Care Giver Burnout.  We all need to have time to reset and often caregivers feel badly or guilty for needing this.  Mrs. G the RT is here to show you that it’s O.K. to take time for yourself and provide you with the opportunities to do so.
Marly (Mrs. G) is certainly the advocate we will ALL need in on our sides! California, you all certainly lucked out on that one! Marly Griffith is a New England native that transplanted to California almost 1 year ago.  She is a passionate Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist that graduated from the University of Southern Maine with a Bachelors of Science in Therapeutic Recreation in 2017.  Her whole life she has been dedicated to helping others in any way she can.  She enjoys creating art through various mediums and loves to help heal her clients through the arts and wellness. She currently offers a variety of services including: 

  • program development
  • consulting 
  • program facilitation 

These services are aimed to combine her love of therapeutic recreation, helping others are deep understanding that without someone in your corner, your leisure interests can falter! Work with Mrs. G to ensure you are being your very best self at work, at home, and in all aspects of your life. 


So remember, caregiver burnout is REAL, its scary and it can be combated. By ensuring you are surrounding yourself with people you can rely on, asking for help, staying focused on the things you can and are achieving and seeking personal and professional support you can be better at understanding, recognizing and fighting off these stressors that bring about the burnout spiral. Don’t let the never ending list of things you “need” to do, the people you are aiming to to serve, and the constant urge to be better than we are cloud your vision, goals and self worth. We do these jobs because we are care, but we NEED to care about ourselves just as much to be effective practitioners!! 

1 thought on “Caring for Ourselves: How to Combat Caregiver Burnout

  1. Nicely stated, Katherine! I think you’re right. So often, those working in the Rec field are viewed as having a great time since the jobs are about recreation and leisure yet we all have our own stresses just like others. I appreciate you acknowledging this and encouraging people to celebrate their successes while also finding ways to take care of ourselves too.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Kathleen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *