It’s real and unless you’ve achieved expert status in self-care and have a legion of paid caregivers and employees helping you around the clock- eventually you’ll visit burnout town too.
In the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP Public Policy Institute survey, 40 percent of caretakers felt emotionally stressed, almost 20 percent said it caused financial problems, and about 20 percent felt physically strained.
Almost every caretaker experiences burnout at some point. If it does happen and it’s not addressed, the caregiver eventually becomes unable to provide good care.
For this reason, caregiver burnout can be harmful to the person receiving care as well as the caregiver.
According to healthline:
Signs and symptoms
There are warning signs before burnout occurs. Being aware of and watching for them lets you know when you need to take steps to combat or prevent the stress you’re experiencing.
General warning signs and symptoms for caregiver burnout include:
- avoiding people
- feeling you’re losing control of your life
- lack of energy
- losing interest in the things you like to do
- neglecting your needs and health
- body aches and pains
- frequent headaches
- increased or decreased appetite that may cause changes in weight
- weakened immune system leading to frequent infections
The emotional signs and symptoms are less easy to recognize, and you may not notice them. Some of these are:
- becoming angry and argumentative
- becoming irritated easily and often
- constant worry
- feeling hopeless
- inability to concentrate
- isolating yourself emotionally and physically
- lack of interest in things that used to make you happy
- lack of motivation
- Developing negative behaviors, such as quickly losing your temper or neglecting your caretaker duties, is another sign of burnout.
So lets talk about some ways we can avoid burnout-
- Ask others for help. Remember that you don’t have to do everything. It’s OK to ask friends and family to do some of your caretaking tasks.
- Get support. Talking about what you’re going through and getting support from family and friends or a support group helps you process your feelings and emotions. Holding everything in can make you depressed and contribute to feeling overwhelmed. Consider seeking professional counseling, if necessary.
- Be honest with yourself. Know what you can and can’t do. Do the tasks that you can, and delegate the rest to others. Say no when you think a task will be too stressful or you don’t have time to do it.
- Talk to other caregivers. This helps you get support as well as allowing you to give support and encouragement to others going through something similar.
- Take regular breaks. Breaks help relieve some of your stress and restore your energy. Use the time to do the things that relax you and improve your mood. Even 10-minute breaks can help.
- Attend social activities. Meeting with friends, continuing your hobbies, and doing things you enjoy are important to maintain your happiness and avoid isolating yourself. The activity should be something that gets you away from the daily routine and setting of caregiving.
- Pay attention to your feelings and needs. It’s easy to forget to take care of your needs when you’re a caretaker. It’s important to focus on of yourself regularly and take care of your needs.
- Take care of your health. Keep your regular doctor appointments, including for preventive care, take your medications, and see your doctor when you feel sick. If you aren’t healthy, you can’t take care of someone else.
- Eat a healthy diet. Eating nutritious meals keeps you healthy and improves energy and stamina. Avoid junk food, which can make you feel sluggish.
- Exercise. Exercising is a great way to relieve stress, increase energy, and take time for yourself. It can also improve depression.
- Maintain your sleep schedule. Getting enough rest is important for your well-being and to maintain your stamina.
- Take family leave. If you work, make use of family leave benefits available to you. Removing the stress of work can reduce your responsibilities and free up more time for yourself.
A medical and a mental health professional can help you with sleep issues and coping with emotional stress. You can’t always recognize caregiver burnout, but if you commit to practicing self-care you will be able to recognize when things are off and your stress levels are higher than normal.
Chances are your loved one is just as worried about you as you are about them and they would take care of you if they could- so do them a favor by taking care of yourself.
That’s all for today friends. Until next time, may your coffee kick in before reality does...
Listen to this podcast here: anchor.fm/katiebrown/episodes/CAREGIVERS-Reducing-Stress-and-Avoiding-Burnout-e4qh7d