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Finding your center: Striking a balance between work and caregiving

Family Caregivers of BC offers helpful tips to help those in Prince George and beyond find support as they care for others and themselves
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In today's fast-paced world, many Canadians find themselves juggling the responsibilities of both work and family caregiving. Whether it's caring for aging parents, supporting a spouse with a chronic illness or looking after a child with special needs, balancing these two roles can be challenging. 

However, with the right strategies in place, it's possible to manage both effectively while reducing stress and maintaining overall well-being. 

According to recent statistics, caregivers make up 35% of the total Canadian workforce, meaning that one in every three employees is balancing unpaid family or dependent caregiving with their work commitments. While caregiving can be a rewarding experience, it also comes with its fair share of challenges.

These studies have also shown that a quarter of caregivers report experiencing changes in their employment status since taking on caregiving responsibilities. These changes can include turning down training opportunities, accepting a loss of income, experiencing health and sleep problems that impact productivity, emotional difficulties, and, in some cases, having to quit their jobs altogether. 

Given the significant impact that caregiving can have on one's professional life, it's essential to find effective strategies for managing the balance between work and caregiving responsibilities. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are several key strategies that caregivers can implement to lighten their load and reduce stress.

Be honest and proactive 

It's crucial to communicate openly with your employer about your caregiving responsibilities. Be honest about your situation and its potential impact on your work. Proactively discuss possible accommodations or adjustments that could help you balance both roles effectively. 

Recognize signs of stress

Pay attention to your physical and emotional well-being. Recognize the signs of stress early and take proactive steps to address them. Methods may involve seeking support from friends, family or professional caregivers, as well as practicing self-care techniques, including mindfulness and relaxation exercises. 

Learn what support is available

Take advantage of any support programs or resources available to you as a family caregiver juggling work responsibilities. Such structures could include flexible work arrangements, employee assistance programs or caregiver support groups. Familiarize yourself with company policies that support working family caregivers and don't hesitate to ask for help when needed.  

Document your experience

Keep detailed records of your caregiving responsibilities, including appointments, medications, and other relevant information. This documentation can be invaluable when communicating with your employer, healthcare providers, or other stakeholders involved in your caregiving journey. 

Make time for yourself 

It’s easy for your caregiving responsibilities to be front and centre all the time. However, remember to prioritize your own well-being amidst your caregiving responsibilities. Schedule regular breaks and activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Set boundaries around your time and energy, and don't be afraid to ask for help or delegate tasks when needed and able. 

 

While implementing these tips all at once may seem daunting and, of course, every scenario is different, it all ties into the common theme of balance – professionally and personally. 

Start with one strategy, and when you feel ready, incorporate a few more. When family caregivers feel confident to navigate the complexities of caregiving, they are more effective in looking for and receiving support, and more resilient when up against challenges. It may not always be a perfect balance between work and family caregiving, but having strategies to support you will improve your overall quality of life for yourself and those in your care. 

To learn more, visit the Family Caregivers of BC Resource Centre at familycaregiversbc.ca or contact the BC Caregiver Support Line at 1-877-520-3267.