Being a caregiver is incredibly rewarding, but it also comes with its share of challenges. Spending a large portion of your day meeting someone else’s needs can make it easy to forget about your own. You may find you are neglecting your own needs for eating, sleeping, and enjoying life that can quickly lead to burnout. Here are four common signs of caregiver burnout, as well as tips for avoiding them!
Caregiver Burnout Sign #1: Feeling Overwhelmed or Exhausted
Being overwhelmed from time to time as a caregiver is not uncommon, but it shouldn’t be a constant feeling. Although meeting someone else’s daily needs on top of your own can be challenging, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to do everything yourself.
What You Can Do
- Allow yourself to accept help from friends, family members, and outside resources. Take the initiative to ask for help with specific tasks. People often want to help, but don’t know what you need specifically, or don’t think to ask.
- Focusing on what you can do tends to be more productive than investing too much energy into too many things and feeling stressed about what you can’t get done. You can’t be everything to everyone, and it’s important to know how much you can handle while still doing your best and taking care of yourself.
Caregiver Burnout Sign #2: Changes in Your Own Health
Stress, struggles with time management, and other burnout-related inconsistencies can lead you to neglect your own eating, exercise, and other healthy habits. This can lead to weight loss or gain, which can have an impact on your overall energy levels and outlook on life.
What You Can Do
If you find that you’re frequently forgetting to eat, gravitating toward unhealthy foods, or struggling to stick with your exercise routine, making small changes can go a long way toward helping you get back on track. Try implementing one or two of these ideas at a time and see what feels good:
- Eating more fruits and vegetables throughout the day.
- Schedule short workout sessions that you enjoy (yoga, anyone?)
- Go to bed 30 minutes earlier
- Try a guided meditation before bed to de-stress
- Take a walk or do something for yourself first thing in the morning
- Spend 10 minutes journaling daily
Sometimes adjusting more than one area of your life can feel like too much. Remember, making even one change at a time can have a significant impact on your health.
Caregiver Burnout Sign #3: Loss of Interest in Hobbies and Passions
The person you’re caring for may be your most important priority right now, but they shouldn’t consume your entire life. But not having interest in doing anything, even starting a new TV show, is common among full-time family caregivers. It’s hard to maintain the physical and emotional energy you once had for your favorite activities.
What You Can Do
Just like getting your health back on track, maintaining your passions may come in baby steps, and they may change over time.
Start by thinking about or writing down what you loved or made you happy about your hobbies. Do those thoughts still bring you joy or make you want to participate? If so, find a way to adjust your current lifestyle to make time for it, even if it’s less than what you used to do, or requires some accommodations from others to make it happen.
However, if you find that thinking of those activities no longer spark joy or make you tired just thinking about them, consider setting those aside for the time being and focusing on new activities that energize you. This could be as simple as calling an old friend or close family member once a week, or rereading a favorite book.
Caregiver Burnout Sign #4: Irregular Habits
Doing your best to stick to a regular schedule is a must when it comes to avoiding caregiver burnout and keeping yourself healthy. Although it isn’t uncommon for caregivers to skip meals, fall behind on household chores, and get far too little sleep, your body and home still need regular attention in order to maintain a sense of balance in your life.
What You Can Do
Start by being intentional about your eating and sleeping routines, which are the most important when it comes to boosting your overall health, and gradually add in other healthy habits around your caregiving responsibilities. Having a regular schedule to maintain your own health and wellness could make a big difference in your overall physical and mental wellbeing.
At Nye Health Services, we stress the importance of maintaining a balance between caregiving responsibilities and the rest of your life in order to minimize burnout and be the most effective caregiver you can be. Contact us today to learn more about the services we offer, including respite care and home health care, to help you and your loved one stay healthy.