The Art of Caring: Six Steps to Prevent Burnout and Maintain Your Sense of Balance

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“Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing Anyway”

– Emory Austin

Having spent more than seven years caring for my elderly father, I used to think caregiving was a term explicitly used when caring for an elderly or ailing family member. However, my concept of caregiving began to change when a friend called me to task and proclaimed that, as a mom, she was a caregiver, too.  Her comment got me thinking. That was more than 15 years ago.

I have since learned that caregiving takes many forms and spans across multiple professions, including those who care for our health, well-being and communities: therapists, doctors, nurses and other health care providers, healers, coaches, teachers, police officers, fire fighters, and members of our armed forces, among others.

This week’s post provides practical tips and strategies for anyone involved in the art of caring.

The Art of Caring: Six Steps to Prevent Burnout and Maintain Your Sense of Balance


We love the people we care for. However, as a caregiver you may find the balance between caring for the needs of your loved ones and yourself difficult.

You may wrestle with guilt, remorse, anger, frustration and resentment, and then judge or berate yourself for feeling that way. And, over the long haul, your own health and well-being may suffer. And, if you’re an expat living abroad, and far away from family, you may find your situation filled with other challenges.

Having been my father’s primary caregiver, and coached clients in similar situations, I speak from personal, as well as professional experience. 

The following six tips will help to calm your mind, relax your body, lift your spirit, and maintain (or regain!) your balance. Try one practice a week and see which ones work best for you. 

Feel free to leave your comments, and additional tips, in the reply section below.

1. Take a Breath Break

Although breathing is involuntary, and something we inherently do, we experience physical tension, when we hold our breath when under stress, resulting in tight and painful muscles. The simple act of breathing will improve your health, reduce anxiety and keep emotions from lodging in the body.

Simply stop at various times throughout the day to tune in to your body. If you’re holding your breath, stop what you’re doing and take a moment to breathe. As you breathe in, notice the air as it touches your nostrils and be sure to exhale fully. Repeat two more times, then notice any changes. For instance, are feeling more relaxed or breathing more easily and deeply? 

Pick an activity you consistently do throughout the day, or set the alarm on your phone to ring every once an hour to act as a reminder.  Applied often enough, the practice will become a habit.

2. Get Inspired

Providing care on a consistent basis can be overwhelming and demanding. Inspiration is an antidote that can keep the blues away. 

Take some time upon awakening to set the tone for the day. Read a passage or two from a favorite book, write a poem, do some yoga or put your feet up while sipping a cup of tea. Even 10 or 15 minutes at the start of day can head off stress and point you in a positive direction. Set your alarm to wake a few minutes earlier, if needed.

3. Make a Date

Thanks to Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way  for suggesting this one:

Set time aside, once week, to take yourself on a dream date. This is a special time, just for you to do something you love by and for yourself, away from your obligations. Get your nails done, go for a run, take yourself out for coffee or lunch or visit your favorite museum. Even an hour or two can lift your mood, enhance your health and enrich your relationships. Don’t have the financial resources? Here’s a creative solution: 

Brainstorm a list of all the things you’d love to do, then highlight the ones that are low cost or free. Choose one, then block the time out in your calendar and do it! Remember, you are important!

Don’t think you have the time? See #4 below!

4. Set boundaries

We all overextend ourselves at one point in time or another. The problem occurs when we overtax ourselves on a regular basis, and our giving takes a toll our health and well-being.

We may exert ourselves because we’re afraid of letting our loved ones down or fear giving up control because believe we can do whatever needs to be done better than someone else, which may or may not be true. Maintaining a sense of balance requires that we’re clear with ourselves, and others, about what we can and cannot do.

Family members, friends, neighbors, churches and community organizations are there to help. Don’t be afraid to ask. One important caveat: Don’t get attached to who (or who does not!) respond to your request. Sometimes, the help you need will come from the most unlikely places! Be open and willing to receive it.

5. Have a Laugh

Make some time to laugh! Watch a funny movie, do something silly, connect with people who are compassionate and have a sense of humor. Laughing releases stress, increases endorphins and keeps us feeling strong and healthy.

 In his book, Anatomy of an Illness, Norman Cousins writes about healing himself from a degenerative disease by watching episodes of The Three Stooges and other favorite comedies, among other alternative methods. 

Have you heard of Laughing Yoga?

6. Talk it Over

It helps to share our experience and concerns with trusted friends and mentors. Meeting for coffee, talking on the phone or scheduling an online appointment for support can serve as powerful medicine.  Remember, you’re never alone.

With love,

Theresa

Article and Photo Theresa Conti 2020

Bio

Theresa Conti was born and raised in New York. She is a Certified Life Coach, Energy Healing Practitioner, Workshop Facilitator and Author with more than 25 years’ experience.  Her books include Alphabet Affirmations: Transform Your Life and Love Yourself, and I Am the Treasure. 

Theresa specializes in helping her clients manage their stress, and develop inner resources, like confidence, courage and resilience, so they can live with greater ease, realize their goals and dreams and better meet life’s challenges. She offers a 30-minute complimentary consultation to get acquainted, discuss your goals , and see how you might work together. She can be reached at Theresa@reconnecting2you.com.

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Theresa Conti
Theresa Conti was born and raised in New York. She is a Certified Life Coach, Energy Healing Practitioner, Workshop Facilitator and Author with more than 25 years’ experience. Her books include Alphabet Affirmations: Transform Your Life and Love Yourself, and I Am the Treasure. Theresa specializes in helping her clients manage their stress, and develop inner resources, like confidence, courage and resilience, so they can live with greater ease, realize their goals and dreams and better meet life's challenges. She is also a qualified English teacher and editor and often brings her coaching skills into her teaching to facilitate her clients’ learning. She offers a complimentary consultation to get acquainted, discuss your goals and see how you might work together. She can be reached at Theresa@reconnecting2you.com.

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