Caregivers are often bearing a heavy load and they focus so much energy on giving hope, optimism and energy to others that they are at risk of burning out. If you know a caregiver, then why not check-in and see how they are feeling. Do they need someone to talk to? Is there anything your community can do to better support them?
Below, we will delve into the signs and symptoms of caregiver stress and burnout, as well as ways to empower caregivers so they can avoid bottoming out.
Some common symptoms of caregiver fatigue
- Often find themselves overreacting to minor issues or nuisances
- Failing to feel rested even after a long sleep i.e. constant exhaustion
- Overeating, drinking or smoking to cope with feeling overwhelmed
- It feels as if their life revolves around caregiving and it’s not satisfying
- Irritable and impatient towards the person they are caring for
- Has too much to do and ends up neglecting own needs
- Health is suffering and seems to contract every cold or flu
- Trouble concentrating and suffering from symptoms of anxiety/depression
Some tips for coping with caregiver fatigue:
1. Join a support group of fellow caregivers
Often, caregivers can begin to feel lonely or isolated. Their work can be time-consuming, and not everybody understands the demands. Joining a group where other people are going through similar can be hugely beneficial for maintaining your mental health. Having the opportunity to vent, talk through issues and feel supported, can be a game-changer for many caregivers who feel alone and as if nobody really understands.
2. Applaud your efforts and celebrate small victories
Sometimes the person you’re caring for isn’t in a position to show gratitude. Also, there may not be others around to notice your constant efforts. Even if it makes you feel silly at first, it’s essential to keep track of your efforts and achievements and reward yourself when you work hard. Even just acknowledging your own patience and taking a moment to reflect on what you’ve managed at the end of a day — can help to improve how you feel. Rather than focusing on the fact that nobody else seems to notice, instead, become your own advocate and celebrate the victories no matter how small they may be.
3. Make time for the things you enjoy
Don’t let caregiving take over your life. We know this is easier said than done, but there are small ways you can maintain your quality of life. Try to think about what you wish you could do and then do your best to accommodate that wish in your life. Perhaps that will mean scheduling time with a good friend or keeping at least one weekly social event on your calendar. Maybe it’s just giving yourself 30 minutes of “me-time” in a day. It can be tough to prioritize yourself. But a happier healthier you, will be a better caregiver and better equipped to handle the tough days when they arise.
4. Ask for help! Don’t try to manage alone!
Don’t let others leave it all to you and don’t assume that others won’t help. Sometimes picking up the phone seems a lot worse than it is. Perhaps extended family or even local support groups can give you advice or support. One thing is for sure; you often won’t know until you ask.
A couple of extra resources:
A Caregiver Self Assesment – Click here to go to a checklist that will help you determine whether or not you’re suffering from caregiver fatigue. It’s important to regularly keep an eye on the symptoms if you are caring for someone as fatigue tends to creep up on us over time.
The Teva Website is also an incredible resource for any caregiver. Not only does it offer advice for different types of caregivers, but it lists national support groups, health service centers and helplines. Click here to check it out!
Before we go…
Caregiver fatigue is a big subject, and we know this blog isn’t going to fix everything. What we do hope is that it will start a conversation and raise some awareness around what caregivers are going through. Often we are so focused on those that are being cared for, that it can become easy to forget those making sacrifices to do the caring. If you know a caregiver that could benefit from this information, feel free to share it with them.