Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Tips for Caregivers – How to Take Care of Yourself and Avoid Burnout

Image of Soldier sitting in gym with wife and daughter. Click to open a larger version of the image. A participant and his family watch as wounded, ill and injured service members participate in the air rifle and air pistol competitions during the 2017 Army Warrior Games Trials at Fort Bliss, Texas (Department of Defense photo by Roger Wollenberg).

Recommended Content:

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences | Total Force Fitness | Warrior Care

Caring for a recovering service member can be hard. It can take on an added level of difficulty and stress when, as is often the case, that person is a friend, family member or loved one. Without time to recharge, burnout is a very real risk.

That's why it's so important for caregivers to take care of themselves, according to the Human Performance Resources by CHAMP (HPRC) team, part of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences' Consortium for Health and Military Performance, based in Bethesda, Maryland.

Whether it be physical support, emotional support, or just help with day-to-day activities, more than five million people in the United States are currently serving as “informal” military caregivers, without the pay, benefits or structured support systems from the civilian or Military Health Systems.

While social connections and family support are linked to healing and better outcomes after an injury, caring for a recovering service member you are close to may require more time and a higher level of resilience than, for example, caring for a child or an aging parent.

Among the Total Force Fitness and holistic health strategies the HPRC team suggests are:

Use TFF to Build Resilience and Cope with Emotional Stress

TFF focuses on overall health, including the physical, environmental, spiritual, psychological, social and financial components.

When taking on extra responsibilities, it’s common to feel negative emotions, stress, anger, frustration and even resentment. That puts caregivers at greater risk of depression, grief, exhaustion, and self-neglect. You are also more likely to develop your own health issues.

A holistic approach like TFF can increase your resilience and help address some of the emotional challenges.

Caregiver support strategies include:

  • Keep your nutritional and physical fitness in mind: Eat right, get the proper amount of sleep, exercise on a regular basis, and make regular visits with your doctor to get the best possible care.
  • Reconnect with your spirituality: Consider what matters to you and how you can connect your values to the support you provide.
  • Focus on problem solving: Often, tactical problems can be solved with a little bit of brainstorming and cooperation. List challenges and come up with strategies together as a family.

Optimize Financial Health

Because of the amount of time required to care for a recovering family member, there is often a link between financial strain and military caregiving. Some strategies to help optimize financial health are:

  • Know your resources. Several programs now offer financial and caregiving support to military families.
  • Don't let money troubles affect your relationships. If you take the time to discuss your financial concerns and focus on communication around money, your family can tackle financial challenges together.
  • Get into healthy financial habits. Budgeting can help you get on track when you are struggling. Small financial changes can make a big difference.

Build Social Support

It's easy to lose yourself while you're focused on caring for someone else, but you are not alone. Self-care and connection strategies include:

  • Get support. The Caregiver Resource Directory , Military Caregiver PEER Forum Initiative provide resources and link caregivers with other caregivers.
  • Set realistic expectations. Have patience and focus on the things that go well, not on setbacks or failures. Be open to change and look for creative solutions instead of "perfect" results.
  • Learn to say "no." Don't over-commit. Stay true to your priorities and say "no" to the rest.

More information from HPRC including links to resources for caregivers can be found here.

The HPRC team is made up of scientists, specialists and support staff who translate research into evidence-based resources to help warfighters and their families achieve total fitness and optimize performance, whether at home, in the office or in theater.

November is Warrior Care Month across the Department of Defense and DOD has no higher priority than caring for wounded, ill and injured service members and the caregivers who support them.

You also may be interested in...

Ten ways parents can help kids make good nutritional choices

Article
4/27/2021
Image of a colorful plate outlining the portions and serving sizes of each type of food.

Nutrition is a key element of Total Force Fitness, but it’s just as important to encourage kids to make smart nutritional choices.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Month of the Military Child - Celebrating Military Kids | Children's Health | Nutritional Fitness

Recovering airman finds a new path with OWF support

Article
4/23/2021
Air Force Tech Sgt. Adam Grimm  posing for a photo

Operation Warfighter (OWF) allows Recovering Service Members the opportunity to intern with over 200 federal agencies.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Do sports / energy drinks enhance individual performance?

Article
4/12/2021
Military health personnel wearing face mask discussing food options

While there are many energy sports drinks are available, their overall value varies.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness

The difference between Celiac Disease & Non-celiac Gluten Sensitivity

Article
3/26/2021
Close up picture of slices of bread

Celiac disease is not a food allergy; it's an autoimmune disease diagnosed through a blood test.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness

When we “Break Bread," we build social bonds

Article
3/25/2021
Picture of military personnel sitting at a table eating food together

Eating socially has been shown to influence happiness and life satisfaction; specifically participating in evening meals with more people.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness

Army dietitian uses nutritional care to fight COVID-19

Article
3/23/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask standing in front of a Nutrition Clinic

Army dietician plays a critical role in COVID-19 patient recovery.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Coronavirus

Army Wounded Warrior perseveres despite COVID-19

Article
3/19/2021
Picture of military personnel wearing a face mask and shooting a bow and arrow

Army Wounded Warrior preserves through COVID-19 pandemic through continued physical activities.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care | Coronavirus | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

METC trains dietician techs to build, support a Medically Ready Force

Article
3/18/2021
Military health personnel preparing food trays while wearing a face mask

Nutrition plays an important role in military readiness.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Health Readiness

Proper nutrition impacts overall health & readiness

Article
3/4/2021
Man wearing a face mask restocking fruit at a store

Nutritional fitness implications for Total Force Fitness are far reaching.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness

Women’s health emerging priorities series highlights mental health

Article
3/4/2021
A woman holding her hands near her face

Women’s mental health can be more affected by transitioning than men’s, speakers’ series attendees hear.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Total Force Fitness | Depression | Psychological Fitness

10 ways to support holistic heart health

Article
2/26/2021
picture of a heart running on the treadmill with the words "healthy heart for body and soul. ten ways to support holistic heart health"

Tips for a Total Force Fitness approach to keeping your heart healthy

Recommended Content:

Heart Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Heart Health Toolkit | Heart Health Toolkit

Good oral care requires lifetime commitment

Article
2/25/2021
Military health personnel, sitting in front of a group of children, showing them how to brush their teeth using a stuffed animal

Children’s Dental Health Month focuses on the importance of developing good oral hygiene habits at an early age.

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Children's Health | Total Force Fitness

Eating disorders hinder optimal health and TFF nutrition concept

Article
2/25/2021
a picture of the produce section at a grocery store

Disordered eating lessens Total Force Fitness.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Heart Health Toolkit | Heart Health Toolkit

Proper diet, sleep, exercise, and joy key to heart health

Article
2/24/2021
Military personnel working out at the gym

Heart health is crucial to service members’ readiness throughout their high-stress careers. Working to achieve that takes self-discipline and moderation, but also joy, integrity, and social interaction

Recommended Content:

Heart Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Heart Health Toolkit | Heart Health Toolkit | Heart Health Toolkit

How do you mend a broken heart? It usually fixes itself

Article
2/23/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask, gets his heart checked out by military heath personnel

'Broken Heart Syndrome’ and ‘Holiday Heart Syndrome’ are very real phenomena. Spiritual and social fitness can help mitigate both.

Recommended Content:

Heart Health | Total Force Fitness | Heart Health Toolkit | Heart Health Toolkit
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 46 - 60 Page 4 of 7

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.