9 Practical Tips to Build Resiliency and Combat Caregiver Burnout

From finding humor in a tough situation to trying creative problem-solving, you can develop a more resilient spirit.

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- Posted on Jul 11, 2019

A woman sitting on the dock in deep reflection as the sun rises.

Lisa Weitzman, LISW-S, is the BRI Care Consultation™ Manager of Business Development at Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging

Does it appear to you as though certain individuals can easily handle any trial the caregiving journey throws their way while others tend to struggle and stumble in the face of difficult circumstances? What is it that enables these seemingly unflappable people to gracefully ride out storms that threaten to engulf others? It likely comes down to resiliency, a cultivated quality that you, too, can take steps to develop. 

Understanding Resiliency

According to Partners on the Path, “resilience is your ability to withstand, recover, and sometimes grow when faced with adversity; it is an active process of enduring and successfully coping. Resilience is bouncing back after a crisis. It’s also bouncing forward to adjust to a ‘new normal.’” Resiliency is not a genetic trait that you do or do not inherit. It is not something that simply comes to you. Rather, it is the accumulation of behaviors, thoughts and actions that you can develop over time with focused, intentional work. Moreover, developing resiliency should not be equated with “becoming tough.” Resilient people show emotions, but are able to control them, move past painful feelings and remain positive. 

Practical Ways to Cultivate Resiliency

Developing resiliency is a goal often suggested by professionals as a positive way of dealing with and adapting to the realities of caregiving. Resilience is what makes the overwhelming seem bearable, transforms the senseless into an opportunity for growth and creates lasting stamina and strength throughout the caregiving journey.

If you enjoy self-help articles, you have probably already gotten a good deal of advice on becoming more resilient: practice mindfulness, be optimistic, expect good outcomes, find purpose and meaning, embrace flexibility, adapt easily, build perseverance, practice self-care and even enjoy solid self-confidence and self-esteem. For many, this to-do list may seem as unrealistic as resiliency itself. For a possibly more practical approach, you may consider the following tips:

1. Focus your energies by prioritizing what you need to address and letting go of the distractions.

2. Let your family members and friends support you, and ask them for help when you need it. 

3. Ask for guidance from a counselor or therapist on coming up with your own personalized resiliency-building strategy.

4. See what happens when you take small risks or try a creative approach to solve a recurring problem.

5. Reflect daily on what you have learned and accomplished.

6. Try to accept, rather than struggle against, your role as a caregiver.

7. Allow yourself to find humor in the day and to laugh.

8. Become part of a caregiver support program to help you access community resources, encourage you to connect with others and enable you to benefit from collaborative problem-solving. 

9. Challenge yourself, even in the most challenging times, to find hope, meaning and possibility.

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