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810 W. 45th Street Austin, TX 78751

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5 Tips to Prevent Caregiver Burnout

The biggest indicator for how a child will function following a hardship is how their caregiver is doing. No matter the makeup of your unique family, caregivers hold the role of providing boundaries and stability. For a child who may struggle with anxiety, sadness, stress, or trauma, this need for a strong foundation is even more essential!   

It is crucial to remember that our own mental and physical health are equally important to our children. Caregiver burnout is a very real and common situation that many parents, grandparents, and caregivers of all kinds experience. Caregivers have the responsibility of keeping another human (often multiple humans!) alive and functioning. We are expected to be in many places at once and to wear many hats with skill and ease. However, this is not realistic, and we can end up getting stretched thin. 

Signs of caregiver burnout which may include:  

  • Feeling burdened or worrying all the time  
  • Feeling tired often  
  • Sleeping too much or not enough  
  • Gaining or losing weight  
  • Becoming easily irked or angry  
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy  
  • Feeling sad  
  • Having frequent headaches or other pains or health problems  
  • Misusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medicines  
  • Missing your own medical appointments  
  • Missing other responsibilities  

Here are some methods that have worked for other caregivers:  

  1. Prioritize Your Mental Health: Talking to a therapist can really help with burnout. Therapists can offer support for stress, worry, anxiety, family issues, and more. Therapy isn't just about healing past trauma; it's also about finding solutions for everyday problems. 
  2. Take Care of Your Physical Health: Exercise can improve both your physical and mental health. Make time for a walk, some stretches, or a workout class. Moving your body can help reduce stress and make you feel better. 
  3. Connect With Others: ACGC hosts caregiver workshops that provide tips, tricks and resources for preventing caregiver burnout. You can learn new skills that will help to alleviate struggles and stress from your parenting.  These workshops will also connect you with other caregivers who might have similar struggles, successes and stories that can be helpful for your own caregiving! 
  4. Make Time for Yourself: Taking care of yourself isn't selfish—it's necessary. Everyone in your family benefits when you're feeling good. Remember to prioritize your mental and physical health by scheduling time for yourself and keeping up with your own doctor appointments.  
  5. Set Boundaries: Sometimes, saying "no" to extra responsibilities can be a form of self-care. Pay attention to when you're feeling overwhelmed and don't be afraid to set boundaries. Therapy can also help you learn how to set these boundaries effectively. 

It's normal to feel overwhelmed, but there are ways to manage caregiver burnout. Start with small, manageable steps that feel right for you. By taking care of yourself, you'll be better able to support your child and your family. 

This blog post was authored by Elisha Gandhi, LCSW is a clinical therapist in our Infant and Early Childhood Program at Austin Child Guidance Center. She sees children and families for therapy as well as provides mental health consultation for pre-schools