People who serve as caregivers are one of a kind — from the time it takes to support loved ones who can’t provide for themselves and need assistance to the energy and compassion required for quality of care. If you’re a caregiver, it can also be very challenging if steps aren’t taken to ensure your wellness is a priority and caregiver burnout doesn’t become a reality.

“Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion. It may be accompanied by a change in attitude, from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. Burnout can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need, or if they try to do more than they are able, physically or financially. Many caregivers also feel guilty if they spend time on themselves rather than on their ill or elderly loved ones. Caregivers who are ‘burned out’ may experience fatigue, stress, anxiety and depression.”

Keep reading to learn more about tips for caregivers and the importance of wellness for you and those entrusted to your care.

Show Compassion

One of the most basic things to embrace as a caregiver is compassion. One easy way to do this is by actively listening to your loved one. Aside from helping them with their day-to-day tasks and health needs, take the time to talk with them, share stories, and make them feel like they matter. More importantly, exercise patience. A decline in health can stir frustration with mood swings or even anger. Choosing compassion for circumstances that may be beyond their control can help ease the tension, and it’s also good to avoid taking what they may say or do personally.

Provide Encouragement

Offering words of encouragement can lift your loved one’s mood, reduce their stress, and help them become more resilient. Positive affirmations and encouragement also can help them build confidence, which can help them embrace and adapt to their new way of life with a caregiver.

Set a Routine

Establishing and maintaining a routine gives your loved one dependability and consistency. Visit them at regular times and do care tasks, such as eating or bathing, at the same time each day whenever possible. Predictability can lessen stress and anxiety, which may improve sleep quality and overall health.

Offer Concrete Help

When you check in with your loved one, avoid telling them to call you or let you know if there’s anything they need. While they may appreciate your willingness, losing part of one’s independence can make it unlikely for them to call you for help. Instead, take the lead and provide concrete help. Ask them how they’re feeling and observe how they are doing. From there, take the initiative to provide assistance in whatever capacity they need.

Ensure Regular Physical Activity

Another important tip for caregivers is to ensure regular exercise — not only for your loved one, but also for yourself. Even in brief increments, moderate physical activity can help both of you stay fit and reduce stress. Brisk, regular walks are the easiest way to do this. If possible, your loved one may be able to join you for daily walks (even if it’s at a slower pace), which provides an active outlet and some fresh air for you both.

Seek and Accept Help

There are organizations and online resources you can search that offer help to balance life as a caregiver. There are also a number of support groups where you can connect with other caregivers who can share their own caregiving tips. Caring for another person isn’t an easy task and may come with some challenges at times, and if you’re not prepared, it can easily take a toll on your health. When things get tough or you find yourself needing help, reach out to someone, whether it’s a friend, an online tool, a local resource, or professional guidance.