Whether it’s your chosen profession or something you’ve had to learn in order to support a loved one, there’s little doubt that – as rewarding as it can be – caregiving can also occasionally be stressful and emotionally demanding. Having someone rely on you is a deep responsibility especially when your loved one or client is frustrated about losing independence. It is important that you remember the role of self-care in being a carer. If you are always at the very bottom of a long list of priorities, eventually you are likely going to burn out. Therefore, whether you are new to caring or are an experienced professional, it is worth being aware of the steps you can take to avoid burning out.
What are the Signs of Caregiver Burnout?
The following are 10 signs that you may be experiencing burnout:
- Low energy
- Extreme tiredness
- Disturbed sleep pattern
- Loss of hope or excitement
- Withdrawing from things you normally enjoy
- Neglecting your own needs – physical or emotional
- Becoming impatient or irritable with others
- Mood swings
- Lowered immune system
If you begin to experience a few of these, it is imperative to seek support and take care of yourself.
It is important to ask for help from others. If you are caring for a loved one, this could mean calling in respite care from a professional agency to allow you to take a break. If you are a professional caregiver, it could mean speaking to management about how they can better support you. Needing help does not make you bad at what you do – it makes you a human being, and those emotions are essential for doing your job. Sometimes, support also comes in the form of education. Whether it’s learning more about new therapies that could support your loved one or client’s conditions or formalizing your knowledge with an online degree from an institution like Suffolk. Knowing more about your loved one or client’s condition can better equip you to deal with situations that arise.
Learn to Delegate
The art of delegation can be a tricky. Yet it is worth mastering. Map out a list of all the daily activities you must undertake, both in your role as a carer and in other aspects of your life. Who could help by taking on some of those tasks? Or are there mechanisms that could make life easier – for example food shopping online or ordering repeat prescriptions for delivery? Sometimes you look so capable that others do not realize how much help you really need. Explaining how much you must do and seeing what others could do to help is important and sensible. Asking your partner to cook dinner a few nights a week or older children to handle tasks at home like laundry can free up a little bit of bandwidth and decrease the chances that you will feel overwhelmed.
Take Time for Yourself
Taking time for yourself sounds easier said than done, but it really is crucial to retaining a sense of balance. Make sure you put aside time to connect with your friends, leave the house enjoy time outdoors or pursue activities that you find enjoyable. Remember that this is not ‘selfish’ – it is vital for personal balance in a very demanding role.