Building Better Habits: Caring for Caregivers
Welcome to LifeSpeak’s total wellbeing guide to building better habits!
Every week in January, this guide will tackle a different area of wellbeing and offer strategies to help you and your employees build the skills to support their continued personal and professional growth.
Healthy life skills are the foundation of a happy life. It would be easy if we could snap our fingers and suddenly have a consistent sleep routine or a nutritious diet. But we can’t. The good news is that forming a new habit isn’t impossible either. With the right support, anyone can do it
Week 2: Caring for Caregivers
The US is home to over 53 million family caregivers—many of them working part- or full-time jobs.
Unfortunately, the essential responsibility of caregiving can take a significant toll on an employee’s time, resources, and mental health. Caregivers in the US on average spend over 24 hours per week performing caregiving tasks. Nearly a quarter of them spend at least 41 hours per week providing care. Adding to the pressure, 78% of caregivers have out of pocket expenses totaling 20% of their income.
It’s not surprising that caregivers report difficulty focusing at work. Supportive workplaces promote healthy lifestyles and maximize productivity by caring for their employee caregivers.
Here are three tips from LifeSpeak experts that any caregiver can implement to help maintain their mental wellbeing.
- Mitigate Compassion Fatigue
As the workload builds, caregivers often encounter a unique phenomenon: they start to care less. Their compassion drops. They become detached. They feel helpless, hopeless, or powerless. And they feel bad about caring less. They start to question their worth and withdraw socially. This phenomenon is called compassion fatigue.
So how do we combat it?
In her LifeSpeak video Compassion fatigue and caregiving, registered psychotherapist Janna Comrie advises that caregivers use their village.
“The old adage it takes a village to raise a child is really helpful here,” Comrie says. “It takes a village to care for anyone in need.”
Comrie says caregivers without a social support network can reach out to support groups, medical professionals, and online communities for help. Even religious organizations or social assistance agencies can provide support.
With extra support, caregivers can dedicate more time and energy to engage in self-care. When our basic needs are met, when we feel rested and fulfilled, we become the best versions of ourselves. We bring more patience and resilience to all stressful situations, including caregiving.
- Define Boundaries
“When you say too much yes because you worry about letting everyone down, you end up letting yourself down.”
This is what certified caregiving coach Denise Brown says in her LifeSpeak video, Caregiving: learning your boundaries and how to say no.
And she’s right. When we say yes to everything for other people, we compromise the little time we have to look after ourselves. We start to feel tired and run down, and we can’t bring our best selves to any situation—at work or at home.
Many people fear the little voice in their head that warns: other people won’t like me if I say no; they won’t ask me again. But according to Brown, people will actually respect caregivers more when they say no to something they just can’t do.
Her advice is to never explain and never complain. When someone asks a caregiver to take on a task that they just can’t do, it’s OK to politely say no, skipping the lengthy explanations. Having adequate boundaries in place allows caregivers to protect their limited time and invest more time in themselves.
- Embrace Micro Mindfulness Moments
How do we create more mindful kids?
It’s a question clinical psychologist Dr. Christopher Willard receives all the time. In his LifeSpeak video, Mindfulness for parents, he says the answer is simple: the best mindfulness practice for kids is the one their caregiver chooses to practice.
Willard finds stressed-out adults create stressed-out kids. He says parents who practice mindfulness tend to have happier kids and stronger family communication.
While many feel too busy to practice mindfulness, Willard says the day is full of micro-moments anyone can leverage to improve their wellbeing bit by bit.
For example, a parent could do a 22-minute cardio workout or yoga session while the kids watch an episode of a show. Caregivers can leverage moments like making dinner or doing the dishes to practice informal breathing exercises, soaking in the colors and textures, the sensations and sounds of the kitchen.
“Watching the steam or sudsy water flow down the drain, we can bring more mindfulness to anything that we’re doing just by knowing that we’re doing it,” he says.
Looking for more caregiver support?
These are just a few simple strategies any caregiver can leverage to improve their mental wellbeing and bring their most resilient self to their daily caregiving duties.
Torchlight, a product of LifeSpeak Inc., is here to help organizations provide even more caregiving support to their employees.
Torchlight is the only comprehensive caregiver support solution for organizations, health plans, and other organizations that speeds the connections to top expertise both digitally and through one-on-one advising and concierge services.
The digital platform makes it easy to support employee caregivers, improve corporate culture, and boost productivity.
Get in touch today to learn more or schedule a demo.
Simple strategies to build better habits in all areas!
Check back here every week for more strategies to build better habits. This guide will tackle mental health, physical wellbeing, family caregiving, and substance use support.
LifeSpeak provides expert-led solutions that help employees and organizations achieve better mental health and overall wellbeing.
Combining preventative education from the world’s top experts with human support, LifeSpeak makes it easy for anyone to improve their overall wellbeing. Get unlimited access to thousands of micro-learning videos and other resources anytime and anywhere on any mobile or desktop device to bridge the gap between unaddressed mental health challenges and clinical interventions.
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