When you care for your family member or friend, or are in a position of an employed caregiver, there are serious risks of experiencing burnout or caregiver fatigue. From respite care to adult day care, to working in nursing homes or as home health aides, the symptoms of caregiver burnout do not discriminate. You carry a lot on your shoulders that can affect your emotional and physical wellbeing.
Family caregivers find caregiving even more intense as they have a unique position as caregivers as well as family members. It’s worth noting that the way a caregiver feels is just as important as the care that’s being given to a recipient and so it’s important to understand the signs of caregiver burnout, to find ways to prevent burnout, and to stay healthy yourself.
You don’t have to give into the symptoms of caregiver burnout and go to unhealthy reliance on alcohol and drugs, but instead, you can take good care of yourself by practicing self care with things like support groups, leaning on friends and family, and more. Caregiver fatigue can happen to any type of caregiver, so it’s vital to understand how to deal with this issue in a healthy way.
The signs of caregiver burnout are things that often creep up slowly into your life. Many caregivers are focused on the immediate needs at hand to care for a family member or friend, or even paid care recipient, that you don’t even realize that fatigue and burnout have crept in. As a result, many caregivers don’t always take the good care of themselves that they need. The more you understand the core symptoms of caregiver burnout, the better you will be equipped to address it head on in your own situation.
Here are some of the common signs of caregiver burnout and caregiver fatigue to be on the lookout for:
While the signs and symptoms are not always the same in each situation, if you notice more and more symptoms being true in your life, it may be time to seek out ways to support your own emotional and physical health. Awareness and self-reflection can be a huge key to stay healthy in all aspects of life.
Once you recognize and understand the signs of caregiver burnout and fatigue, it’s important to be proactive to prevent burnout from escalating even further. You want to thrive, not just survive. Here are just a few practical ways to prevent caregiver burnout:
As much as we want to find our identity in our jobs, the reality is that you should be focused on keeping yourself healthy proactively, which will in turn, help you prevent burnout. Above, we discussed many reactive measures you can take to prevent burnout, but the best prevention is to be proactive about staying healthy yourself.
Exercise: Get moving and stay moving. Not only will you be stronger to help with any of the physical tasks associated with your job as a caregiver, but you will also find yourself feeling more confident and energized by meeting goals and getting endorphins pumping.
Eat Healthy: A well-balanced diet will help you stay healthy and ward off any infections floating around. Not only does this help you on a personal level, but staying healthy allows you to stay more consistent with your care recipient, rather than needing to be out suddenly for health reasons.
Meditate: Your mindset is so important how you as a caregiver feels. It can change your entire outlook on a situation. Meditation can help ground you on your core values, while also helping you decompress and separate your work life from your personal life.
Find a Hobby: You need an outlet and hobbies are simple ways to have a purpose or activity that has little crossover with your daily caregiving role. You can combine some hobbies to support both your mental and your physical well-being, such as running, dance classes, or yoga. However, other activities and hobbies can be beneficial as well. Music has been found to help lower stress. Even doing something simple, like working on a jigsaw puzzle, can be amazing outlets to bring purpose to your day that is separate from your caregiving responsibilities.
Home health aides, aides in nursing homes, respite care workers, and more all experience exhaustion from time to time, but when momentary exhaustion leads to prolonged fatigue, burnout can become a reality very quickly. If you find caregiving life-giving, you may one day find it a cause of your own stress and burnout. No one is immune to these risks. That’s why it’s so important to stay aware, stay proactive, and stay on top of your own wellbeing.