Time off from caregiving is precious. But after a break, many family caregivers find they don’t feel as refreshed as they hoped they would.
Current research provides insights about how to get the most from a respite break.
Common respite mistakes
- Unplanned time. It may sound good to “have no plans.” But that can backfire if you end up simply watching TV. You may feel you “wasted” your time.
- Routine tasks. Doubtless, there are chores and tasks to be done. If completing a task will genuinely feel satisfying, great. But you may feel cheated if you use your respite to do “more of the same.”
- Obligations. Watch out for self-imposed “shoulds.” Such as, “I should go see my niece in that play.” If theater is not your thing, you’ll end up frustrated instead of rejuvenated.
Tips for respite satisfaction.
You don’t have to spend money or do something flashy or exotic.
- Reconnect with favorite activities. What did you used to find pleasant or meaningful? Use time off to resume those activities. Or look for new activities you enjoy. The point is to restore your sense of self.
- Address what’s critical. Your physical health and mental health are essential. Follow through with doctor appointments. Meet with a support group or counselor for help with emotional distress.
- Improve on the basics. If you must do routine tasks, find ways to make them more fun. Perhaps you and a friend can team up on housecleaning. Or carpool to grocery shopping—coffee anyone?
- Get more from work time. Work is time away from caregiving. Try to weave in personally fulfilling activities. For example, have lunch with friends regularly. Or schedule exercise or lessons directly before or after work.
Don’t wait until you’re feeling burned out to take time off. You and your loved one will fare much better if you get frequent, regular, and satisfying breaks.
Perhaps you can make quality time off your New Year’s resolution.
It will be good for both of you!