Being a caregiver to a loved one can be a very rewarding experience, but it can also be quite stressful. If that stress is not managed properly, it can lead to burnout, which is harmful to both the caregiver and the care receiver.
Caregivers often have a tendency to invest all of their energy into the one needing care and put themselves at the bottom of the priority list. This is a big mistake. If you do no take care of yourself, you cannot properly care for others. Therefore, it is important to recognize the signs of stress and burnout early and address them before both you and your care receiver suffer unnecessarily.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Stress and Burnout
- Constant exhaustion (even when you just slept)
- Difficulty sleeping
- Anxiety, depression, or irritability
- Lowered immune function (seeming to catch every bug that you come into contact with)
- Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
- Having trouble relaxing even when help is available
- Being increasingly impatient or irritable with your care receiver
- Neglecting your own needs (either because you feel you are too busy, or you just don’t care)
If these sound familiar, you may be headed towards burnout. So how do you change this before you stretch yourself too far and end up costing both yourself and the one you care for?
- Get help! Asking for help can be difficult (especially for those who are used to being the helper rather than the helped), but in this case it is essential. Ask someone to run errands for you, or take over care long enough for you to get out for a bit, or to check in with you daily or weekly to see if there is anything you need. And then be willing to accept the help and try not to micromanage (even if the helpful person doesn’t do it the way you would).
- Take a break! Give yourself at least 30 minutes a day to be out of caretaker mode, find ways to pamper yourself, find a way to laugh, and get out once in a while.
- Practice Acceptance! Recognize that you cannot control everything and learn to accept that fact and instead focus on what you can control.
- Take care of yourself! You have to be healthy to be able to care for another person, so you must take care of your own health as well as your care receiver’s.
Learning to monitor yourself and knowing how to respond before you get too far down the path to burnout will benefit both you and the one you are caring for.
For more information, contact Unlimited Care Cottages today!