Caregiver Burnout – Why You Need To Be Proactive
When you’re a primary caregiver, burnout hits when you least expect it.
Warning signs of burnout
It can be hard to self monitor for burnout especially when caring for a loved one. Many feel guilty for thinking that they are tired or can’t do any more when they know their loved one is struggling. Instead of asking for help, they keep pushing and cause themselves to burnout.
When you’re burnout, you find it harder to care for your loved one and yourself. And to make matters worse, he or she can sense that you’re tired, irritated or stressed. So, what warning signs should you be looking at and monitoring for:
- You’ve lost a lot of energy
- You feel tired all day, even after a good night’s sleep
- You’ve started avoiding your family and friends
- You’re losing interest in activities you used to enjoy (sports or hobbies)
- You neglect your own needs
- You have trouble relaxing
- Your life revolves around caregiving but you no longer find it fulfilling
- You feel sad and hopeless, nervous or angry and resentful
- You’ve lost or gained weight for no apparent reason
- You fall sick more often than normal
- You’re impatient and irritable towards the person you’re caring for
- You feel like hurting yourself or the person you’re caring for
Don’t ignore these signs! These do not come as part of caring for someone you care about. Taking preventative action early will allow you to recharge and regain your strength.
How to avoid burnout
Here are 4 simple tips that can help you avoid and overcome caregiver burnout:
1. Share your feelings
Talk to a friend, family member or neighbour about how your feeling. Expressing your sentiments, both the good and the bad, can help put things in prospective.
2. Stay positive
Positivity breads positivity. Smile to people, laugh with them, and do things you enjoy. Humour is a great way to deal with stress and moments when you feel down. Make sure to surround yourself with people who life you up.
3. Put your health first
When you’re on the path to burnout it’s common to be under the weather more frequently. Remember that you are only good to the person you are caring for if you are able to provide to provide care. Take a little extra time to make healthy meals, get outside for a walk or take in a yoga or meditation class. It may be difficult to carve out time for yourself, but it can make a world of difference.
4. Get Help
It’s very common for caregivers to have that “never give up” attitude, it’s what makes you a great caregiver. That said, asking for help is not a sign of defeat. If you are lucky enough to have someone to help share the care, that is great. If not, private home care can be a great option for short term family respite care or to help pick up some of the pieces just a couple hours a week.
Know that It’s natural to experience feelings such as sadness or anger when you are the caregiver and experiencing signs of burnout. Don’t blame yourself or your loved one. The negative feelings will pass with the proper self care. Vytality at Home is a great resource and support if you identify signs of burnout. Reach out to us at any time 403.488.7991
Written in conjunction with Marlowe Kaufmann
CBT/DBT Interventionist Senior Mind Wellness & Behavioral Therapist (Dementia Care Specialist)