How caretakers can avoid burnout

How caretakers can avoid burnout

As a caretaker, you put other people's needs before your own on a daily basis. On the whole, sacrificing your time to care for a loved one is a rewarding experience, and often worth the stress and inconvenience it incurs. But in order to be good caretaker, you need to remember to care for yourself, as well.

A caretaking role could last for days, weeks or even years. Regardless of how long you’re performing caretaking tasks, it’s a stressful job that often involves shifts in family dynamics, household arrangements, finances and more. Even worse, there’s often no light at the end of the tunnel when your patient has a chronic or fatal illness. Because of these factors, caretakers often burn out, making them susceptible to depression and other illnesses.

Possibly the most discouraging aspect of burnout is feeling helpless when your own needs hamper your ability to care for your loved one. With that in mind, it’s important to know the symptoms of burnout and how to fix it.

Symptoms of caretaker burnout include:

  • Significant lack of energy
  • Catch common illnesses frequently
  • Neglect personal health and exercise needs
  • Impatient with your charge
  • Unable to relax
  • Feel helpless and hopeless
  • Lack of satisfaction with life
  • Alcohol or drug abuse

If you are experiencing some or all of the above symptoms, it’s time for you to get help. Here are some ways to combat the effects of burnout and work your way back to a healthier you.

  1. Speak up. Tell friends and family what you’re going through and ask for help. Having a close friend or family member help you provide care is totally acceptable and a great way to relieve some of your stress. If they can’t do that, smaller things such as taking your charge out a few times a week or picking up your groceries will help, too.
  2. Give yourself credit for the hard work you do. Remember that no one is a perfect caretaker, and you’re doing the very best that you can.
  3. Seek support. Connect with other caregivers and health professionals.
  4. Practice saying “no” to others. Constantly giving your time and energy to others is what leads to burnout. Don’t feel bad for turning down requests.
  5. Practice saying “yes” to yourself. Put your needs first for a change. Establish a healthy sleep routine, see your doctor, improve your diet or even take a vacation, if possible.

Once you begin these practices, you’ll see a perceptible change in your life—and others will too! Remember that it’s never selfish to prioritize your needs. In fact, it will make you a better caretaker in the long run. If your health symptoms persist even after making these changes, make an appointment with your physician.

Posted: 9/25/2015 by Goshen Health
Filed under: awareness, caretaker, wellness

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