Taking Breaks: Learning When to Relax
The role of family caregiving is a lot of work. Most people who become family caregivers have no prior experience caregiving. The time it takes to get the hang of caregiving and making the best decisions can often be difficult and stressful. As a result, people experience what’s called “caregiver burnout,” which means feeling overworked and over-exhausted from the responsibilities of caregiving. This is a common experience to go through, and this is why it is important to take breaks. In this blog, we will provide some ideas for how you can recover from the stressors of caregiving, as well as preventing caregiver burnout.
First, it is worth your time to consider reasons why you might not be taking enough breaks. For example, do you often say that you do not have enough time for breaks? Do you feel guilty for taking “time off?” Perhaps you think breaks are irresponsible. These feelings are normal. In fact, many caregivers want their breaks to feel legitimate, i.e., that breaks are warranted. As such, we hope this blog helps you understand why breaks are justified and legitimate; and when you feel like you are “not allowed” to take breaks, we hope you reconsider since taking time to focus on your wellbeing is important.
Incorporating Breaks in Your Caregiving Routine
(1) Consider how much time you need: Take a moment to think about what taking a break looks like for you and what would be the most helpful and rejuvenating activity to pursue. This can help you plan breaks and work them into your schedule.
(2) Find help: Now that you have an idea of what your break will look like, you may have to find someone to take over for you temporarily. This may mean collaborating with a family member or hiring a professional caregiver to fill in for you while you are away.
(3) Follow through: Once you have found backup, it is important to follow through with your planned break. Make sure you do that activity that provides you relief, like reading, exercising, going to the beach, and so on. Take advantage of the time you have to yourself.
(4) Compartmentalize: It is easy to let your thoughts about caregiving or worries to spill over into your newfound free time, but it is important to tag these thoughts and focus on them at an appropriate time. Do not use your break time as a time to worry about caregiving.
If you need assistance finding someone to fill in for you while you take a break, then please call ElderCare at Home. We are a nurse registry and we specialize in connecting you with professionally trained caregivers to help meet your needs. Please call us at 888-285-0093 if you have any questions or visit our website.
 de la Cuesta-Benjumea, Carmen. “The legitimacy of rest: conditions for the relief of burden in advanced dementia care-giving.” Journal of Advanced Nursing 66, no. 5 (2009): 988-998.