Have you ever felt like you’re focusing all of your energy on helping others, to the point that your own life suffers as a result? Many people today experience a phenomenon known as caregiver burnout. It can harm your personal life, and in many cases, it can cause issues that affect not only you but also your relationships with your partner, children, friends, coworkers, and peers. It can even take a toll on your physical health and wellness.
Caring for others can be trying, especially as a health care professional. You might experience burnout if your job entails long hours of meeting others’ needs, whether you’re a nurse, doctor, or caregiver. Of course, helping others is not unhealthy in itself.
Burnout takes root when you focus all of your energy on caregiving, thus losing track of your own needs and desires.
You will find yourself in a funk, dealing with emotions that might make helping others so difficult that you feel like you don’t want to – or can’t – do it anymore. But this isn’t the case. You’re just experiencing caregiver burnout, and once you address it, you will find that your work feels positive and fulfilling once again.
Symptoms Of Caregiver Burnout?
Caregiver burnout will leave you feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted. When you feel exhausted and overwhelmed, it will create a change in your attitude from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. Caregivers who are “burned out” may experience anxiety, stress, fatigue, and depression. Many caregivers also feel guilty if they spend too much time on themselves rather than on those they care for. The symptoms of caregiver burnout are:
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- Feeling blue, irritable, hopeless, and helpless
- Changes in appetite, weight or both
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Getting sick more often
- Physical and emotional exhaustion
- Excessive use of sleep medications or alcohol
- Overreacting to minor nuisances
- Inability to relax
- Scattered thinking
- Feeling increasingly resentful
- Being on the verge of tears or crying a lot
- Losing interest in work
- Being short-tempered with care recipients frequently
Causes of Caregiver Burnout
Caregivers often care for others, and they tend to neglect their physical, emotional, and spiritual health. The demands on a caregiver’s mind, body, and emotions can easily feel overwhelming. These demands lead to fatigue, hopelessness, and ultimately burnout. Caregivers need empowerment tools to avoid and or relieve caregiver burnout.
Burnout Prevention Methods
Now it’s time to focus on the measures you can take to prevent caregiver burnout. There are concrete steps that can be taken, and once you do, you will find yourself better able to complete the responsibilities associated with your caregiving job.
Give Yourself a Break
When it comes to caregiving work, finding the time to take a break can be difficult. Don’t let this deter you; you must make time for true relaxation at least once a day. If you spend each day running around and busy without taking the time to recharge your batteries, you will be less productive and less content in the long run. Change that by taking a full and relaxing break each day, and make sure you use it to clear your mind rather than wasting it by worrying about your work.
Spend 30 Minutes a Day By Yourself
Don’t do anything other than what you truly enjoy for thirty full minutes. Whether it’s reading, writing, playing a game, knitting, or even going for a walk, take that time for yourself. This simple step is much more helpful than you might imagine.
Your needs and wants are important, and you should treat yourself each day. Soak in a bath, get a massage, have a manicure or pedicure, etc.; just do something that will make you feel good about yourself, inside and out.
Focus on your own happiness and the sources of enjoyment that exist in your life. Even in the sadness of a situation, making yourself laugh is a great way to relieve stress. Watch something funny, listen to a joke, talk to a friend and have a humorous conversation: all of these simple activities can do you a world of good.
Get Out of the House
You should make a point of venturing into the world at least once daily. Don’t just go straight from home to work to home; your mood will suffer. Visit friends, run errands, join clubs, and focus on your hobbies and interests. Your self-image and personal happiness will improve exponentially.
Find Friends who have Experienced This.
Seek out people who have gone through a similar experience and form friendships with them. Tell them about what’s going on and air your grievances. The simple act of sharing your thoughts and feelings will provide catharsis. If you find such people and confide in them, you will have a lasting and mutually beneficial friendship.
Exercise regularly, and you will be happier, healthier, and more energetic. At first, try to get at least thirty minutes of exercise three days a week, and then slowly work up to more. If the gym isn’t for you, then seek out a sport or recreational activity, so you can have fun while you work out.
Do Yoga or Meditate
Both of these practices benefit those who need to chill out and relieve stress. Even a few minutes a day spent holding yoga poses or practicing meditation will save you a lot of stress in the long run.
Don’t consume unhealthy foods to seek comfort and stress relief. Instead, pack healthy lunches and spend time making great dinners. Watch what you eat, and don’t binge on alcohol and sweets. Taking care of your body in this simple way will prevent many health problems and improve your mental state.
Take Some Time Away
Whenever the stress seems like it’s become too much to handle, step outside or even plan a vacation. Have your work scheduled so you can ask a friend or colleague to take over your caregiving duties for a short time. Take the time you need to focus on yourself, whether a few minutes during the work day or a few days of vacation. Your body and mind will thank you.
All of these tips can help with caregiver burnout. Integrating them into your daily routine is essential to feel better today and in the future.