Are you starting off the New Year feeling exhausted? Unmotivated? Constantly frustrated and forgetful? Having problems at work or with relationships?
Then you may be grappling with caregiver burnout.
It’s bad enough that the ongoing obligations and responsibilities – and the routine stress, worry and discomfort that caring for a loved one entails – threaten your emotional health.
What’s worse is that “Caregivers often focus so intently on the needs of the individual receiving care that they may neglect their own health and wellness,” says licensed clinical psychologist Darren Sush. That neglect, combined with the often overwhelming emotional strains, can lead to medical problems: physical exhaustion, chronic depression, hypertension, diabetes, stroke, even premature death.
So caregiver burnout can be harmful to two people – you and the person who’s depending on the care you give.
These five New Year resolutions can be good ways to keep that from happening to you in 2018:
1.Know what to look out for.
Don’t let yourself get so accustomed to constant caregiving stresses that they become your new normal. Stay on the lookout for these signs of burnout:
- You no longer enjoy doing things you used to.
- Friends and family tell you they’re concerned about your wellbeing.
- Negative feedback at work
- Problems with your spouse
- You keep feeling intensely angry, sad, worried or fearful.
- It’s hard to concentrate or fall asleep.
- Big weight gains or losses.
- Unexplained health problems
- Anger or resentment toward the person you’re caring for – or toward others who aren’t helping
- Using substances to help cope
2. Don’t keep it all to yourself.
Caregiver burnout grows in isolation, so reach out and talk to others – a therapist, a support group, family, friends, maybe even your supervisor at work. At best, you’ll get new ideas and solutions. At worst, just sharing your wants, needs and frustrations could help you relieve them.
3. Take care of yourself first.
The first person you should give care to every morning is you. So make time for yourself part of every morning’s routine. Read the paper over a cup of coffee, stretch or jog, go to the gym. The activity and “you time” will help fend off mental stress and fatigue and help you feel better all day long. And every day, make a list of ten things, no matter how ordinary, that you’re grateful for. That’ll make you feel better, too.
4. Control what you can, accept what you can’t.
You can’t do everything and be everywhere all the time. There are things you can control (getting enough sleep, eating right, looking after yourself) and things you can’t (like your loved one’s health). So make a list of all the things you can control, think of ways to improve them, and put those ways into practice. Taking charge of what you can control will leave you in better shape to cope with and accept whatever you can’t.
5. Give yourself a break.
That means more than just getting a little more sleep every now and then. It means giving yourself a regularly scheduled respite. One way to do this is to strategically pick a type of recurring care your loved one needs and outsource it. Our detailed, three-part assessment can identify types of care that fit your unique needs and your financial condition, then connect you with reliable caregivers to fulfill them. So please click here or phone (804) 972-3362 for a free 30-minute consultation.