While caring for a loved one can be rewarding, it can also add many stressors to your life. Without realizing it you start to neglect your personal health, family responsibilities, personal finances, and possibly career. It is no wonder why caregivers are some of the people most prone to neglect self and burnout.
Learning to recognize signs of caregiver stress and burnout is the first step toward awareness and self-care.
Common signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout
• You have much less energy than you once had
• It seems like you catch every cold or flu that’s going around
• You’re constantly exhausted, even after sleeping or taking a break
• You neglect your own needs, either because you’re too busy or you don’t care anymore
• Your life revolves around caregiving, but it gives you little satisfaction
• You have trouble relaxing, even when help is available
Caregiver stress can be particularly damaging since it is typically a long-term challenge. You may face years or even decades of caregiving responsibilities. It can be particularly disheartening when there’s little hope that your family member will get better. Without adequate help and support, the stress of caregiving leaves a person vulnerable to a wide range of physical and emotional problems, ranging from heart disease to depression.
When caregiver stress and burnout puts your own health at risk, it affects your ability to provide care. It hurts both you and the person you’re caring for. The key point is that caregivers need care too. Managing the stress levels in your life is just as important as making sure your family member gets to his doctor’s appointment or takes her medication on time.
Self-care is important for caregivers, but it is most often set aside with the belief that there is not enough time in the day for one’s self. You are responsible for your own self-care. Focus on these simple health care practices: • Learn and use stress-reduction techniques. • Attend to your own healthcare needs. • Get proper rest and nutrition. • Exercise regularly. • Take time off without feeling guilty. • Participate in pleasant, nurturing activities. • Seek and accept the support of others. • Seek supportive counseling when you need it, or talk to a trusted counselor or friend. • Identify and acknowledge your feelings. • Change the negative ways you view situations.
If you find that the stress levels or depression symptoms are too much, you can always reach out to a professional counselor. We are here to provide support for you as needed without judgement. We can provide a safe place for you to process your thoughts and feelings related to change in family dynamics, and decompress as needed where you don’t have to worry about being politically correct. What and how you say and express yourself in session, stays in session.
Remember, it is not selfish to focus on your own needs and desires when you are a caregiver – it’s an important part of the job. We at Focus Forward Counseling and Consulting are willing to assist you toward health and healing.