Coping with Carer Fatigue

Wellbeing

All jobs can have an effect on our energy levels but it’s important to notice the difference between a hard week at work and Carer Fatigue. Carer Fatigue is when a carer ‘burns out’ and has difficulty looking after themselves whilst they focus on caring for another.

Signs of Carer Fatigue can include:

  • Frequent illness
  • Constantly feeling tired and lethargic
  • No ‘me time’
  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Difficulty managing your emotions
  • Changes in weight
  • Sleep disturbance

The above list is just some symptoms and not an exhaustive list by any means.

Ways of managing this are to be able to identify and acknowledge the symptoms early on and to have a talk with your line manager to look at ways and solutions of dealing with them. Do not try to struggle on, in the hope, it will go away.  Ongoing fatigue will have a negative effect on your mental and physical health if not dealt with.

We’ve put together a checklist to help you cope and get yourself back on track.

Set Boundaries

No two days are the same for a carer, which definitely has its positives but it can mean that finding time to put aside for yourself can be lost within your routine. Focus on the things you can control, like taking breaks. Making sure you take adequate breaks throughout the day will allow you the space to reflect and breathe.

It’s super important to unwind at the end of your shift, whatever time that may be, to do something you enjoy! That could be reading a book, having a bubble bath or going for a run. Taking your mind away from any difficult moments will help you separate your work life from your personal life.

Look after your physical health

It’s important to make sure your body’s in good condition. Caring is a very physical job and your body can be put under a lot of strain. Stretching is a great way to start your day and ensure your body is prepared for physical stress.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Adults should get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. If you’re not getting enough, ask yourself why.

Does your mind wander at night? Do you find yourself watching the clock? If so, try having a bedtime routine where you are able to unwind properly.

If you have a lot on your mind, you might find journalling before you sleep is a good way to clear your thoughts from the day.

Eat Well

Just as you would suggest a balanced diet for your service users, it’s also crucial you receive yours. Make sure your diet is filled with all the nutrients you need.

Keeping hydrated will help to improve your sleep quality, cognition and mood while adding some vitamins into your daily routine could help boost your immune system.

As time is normally of the essence for carers, our advice to you is to meal prep or batch cook when possible. Not only will this save you time, but it can also be a lot more money efficient!

Keep Active

We know the term ‘exercise’ can feel daunting and trust me, we don’t mean you should sign up to the next marathon but exercising, even if it’s little and often, can have some fantastic benefits on your health.

Not only will it forgive that packet of biscuits devoured on your lunch break but the endorphins released will help to boost your mood. And exerting that extra energy will help to aid a good night's sleep!

Having said this, working as a Care Assistant can be very physically demanding. So if your body needs a rest, listen to it and do what feels right for you.

Don’t forget your mental wellbeing

While focusing on our physical health, we sometimes neglect our mental health.

One of our top tips for keeping a clear and focused mind is talking to someone about how you feel. Whether it be friends, work, family or a support group, it's crucial to avoid the build-up of negative or stressful feelings and emotions.

Practising mindfulness and meditation can be hugely beneficial to your well-being and with an endless amount of help online in this area, you don’t need to worry about being a complete beginner.

Celebrating your wins, no matter how big or small will remind you of what a great job you are doing and that all of your efforts pay off!

And remember: you know yourself better than anybody. If you’re struggling with your physical or mental health you must ask for help or visit your GP.

Jody is a regional Trainer at Cera and also a Registered Mental Health Nurse - she says:

‘To manage fatigue it could require reducing workload and reviewing the types of calls that you are assigned to do. Look at your work-life balance and plan time for yourself using some of the tips identified above. It is important to acknowledge feelings that you have for those you care for and have a contact person to discuss these feelings with. Have regular supervisions with your line manager.'

'The key thing is to identify what is going on and seek help and support in dealing with this in order to reduce the stress on yourself.'

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