Skip to main content

Military Health System

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

Image of Soldier sitting in gym with wife and daughter. 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...

As a Military Family, We Do What We Do with Faith, Hope, Love, and Prayers

Article Around MHS
12/8/2022
Capt. Luis Avilla with his family.

The average military family could relocate ten times or more. There are changes in schools, jobs, and homes. But that's the easy part. See how one military family, like so many others, held it together when the going got very tough.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care | Real Warriors Campaign

'We Must Be Future-Focused' Says New USU President Dr. Jonathan Woodson

Article Around MHS
12/1/2022
New USU President Dr. Jonathan Woodson at podium

Building strong relationships with stakeholders and preparing students to embrace the digital medical platforms of the future are just some of the many goals of the new president of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

Recommended Content:

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Two Public Health Command Europe Soldiers Receive Highly Sought-After Expert Medical Field Badge

Article Around MHS
11/30/2022
U.S. Army Sgt. Stephanie Hardin taking the M4 proficiency test

One officer and one enlisted soldier assigned to Public Health Command Europe earned the coveted Expert Field Medical Badge on their first try during a grueling three-week testing event conducted by the 173rd Infantry Brigade at Caserma Del Din.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness

Uniformed Services University Alumnus Astronaut Frank Rubio Takes Questions, Talks with Students

Article Around MHS
11/28/2022
U.S. Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Frank Rubio, NASA astronaut, makes space walk

Uniformed Services University alumnus U.S. Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Frank Rubio, a NASA astronaut, and his colleague U.S. Marine Col. Nicole Mann, answered a series of thought-provoking questions from students, staff and military personnel live from the International Space Station on Nov. 21.

Recommended Content:

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Native American Medical Student Fulfills Her Life’s calling at the Uniformed Services University

Article Around MHS
11/17/2022
U.S. Air Force Lt. Samantha Williamson

U.S. Air Force Lt. Samantha Williamson, a member of the Uniformed Services University School of Medicine’s class of 2025, finds herself far from home as she aims to fulfill her life’s purpose to care for her community.

Recommended Content:

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

It’s all About Adapting…When it Comes to Disability

Article Around MHS
10/19/2022
Meagan Gorsuch participates in downhill skiing

Meagan Gorsuch, a Kirtland U.S. Air Force Base military spouse, knows all about adapting to her disabilities. She has been deafblind since birth. See how she has adapted to a world that can still be a challenge for the disabled.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

USU Alumna Honored as U.S. Air Force Flight Surgeon of the Year

Article Around MHS
10/14/2022
U.S. Navy Major (Dr.) Courtney Beaver wearing surgical mask

Only three years out of medical school, she tended to hundreds of evacuees fleeing Afghanistan during the August 2021 exodus from Kabul International Airport.

Recommended Content:

Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief | Global Health Engagement | Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Return to Duty: An SRU Soldier's Story of Recovery and Resiliency

Article Around MHS
9/12/2022
Fort Stewart Soldier Recovery Unit insignia

Capt. Viola Howard, an Iron Guardian at the Fort Stewart Soldier Recovery Unit, injured herself during her tour of duty in Germany and was transferred to Fort Stewart She set her mind to recover, rehabilitate, rebuild and ultimately return to active duty.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Battalion Hosts Critical Medical Training

Article Around MHS
8/24/2022
Military personnel in combat training exercise

Allied Forces North Battalion conducted a week-long Combat Lifesaver Course July 25-29.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Education & Training | Building Partner Capacity and Interoperability | Global Health Security Agenda

August Performance Triad Month

Article Around MHS
7/21/2022
Color graphic depicting aspects of wellness.

As part of its August “P3 for All” campaign, the U.S. Army Public Health Center is encouraging all Army leaders, soldiers, family members and soldiers for life to embrace the synergy of sleep, activity and nutrition, the core components of the Performance Triad, along with the important elements of mental readiness and spiritual readiness.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Sleep

378th Medical Partnerships Sustain Life and Mission

Article Around MHS
6/1/2022
Military medical personnel perform mock emergency care

Air Force medical contingency response team members, with the 378th Expeditionary Medical Squadron, perform mock emergency medical care for a simulated casualty at Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Warrior Care

Multiservice medical providers, medics take on dive injuries, treatments

Article Around MHS
5/31/2022
Military personnel in pool for training

A group of medical providers and medics recently spent two weeks at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Dive Center here learning how to treat patients who may have suffered a dive injury.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Warrior Care

Air Force Surgeon General eyes modernizing capabilities for joint commanders (Part 2)

Article Around MHS
5/27/2022
Military medical personnel at Patrick AFB

Since assuming his role of Air Force Surgeon General, Lt. Gen. Robert Miller has worked to advance the Air Force Medical Service’s capabilities, ensuring it is ready for an evolving joint fight.

Recommended Content:

Medical Logistics | Defense Medical Readiness Training Institute | Health Readiness & Combat Support | Total Force Fitness

JBLM Soldiers Start Preparing for Warrior Games With Hard Training

Article Around MHS
4/19/2022
Military personnel training for Army Trials and DoD Warrior Games

The DoD Warrior Games 2022 may be months away, but the Soldiers of Task Force Phoenix at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU) in Tacoma, Washington already are deep into an intense training regimen in the hopes of securing some shiny hardware this August in Texas.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Air Force Medical Student Called to Work as Translator for Afghan Evacuees

Article Around MHS
1/25/2022
Military personnel standing in front of a plane

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) medical school student Air Force 2nd Lt. Kristen Bishop was doing clinical rotations at the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth when she was asked to change her rotations to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for a special side assignment.

Recommended Content:

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences | Mental Health is Health Care
<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2
Refine your search
Last Updated: November 17, 2021
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery