Most of us have days when we feel tired, irritable, overwhelmed, or unappreciated; when the dozen balls we keep in the air go unnoticed, not to mention rewarded; when it’s all we can do just to drag ourselves out of bed. Oftentimes we shrug it off and say it’s just stress. But, if you find yourself feeling like this most of the time, you may be flirting with caregiver burnout.
What is caregiver burnout?
Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Oftentimes, as a caregiver you’re so concerned and consumed with meeting the constant demands and needs of others that you may not even notice the onset of caregiver burnout.
Are you experiencing any of the following:
- Feeling increased stress and anxiety over even minor things
- Despairingly blaming yourself for your inability to meet unrealistic demands
- Feeling everything is out of control, and you don’t see a way out
- Loss of energy and constant feeling of exhaustion, emotionally and physically
- Feeling helpless, hopeless, or on the verge of tears often
- Overreacting to minor things and snapping much too quickly
- Frequent indigestion, loss of appetite, more headaches and body aches
- Significant weight gain or loss, or change in eating patterns
- Loss of interest in your appearance and grooming
- Change in sleep patterns or sleeplessness
- Decreased productivity or lack of interest in work
- Scattered thinking or inability to concentrate
- Feeling increasingly cynical, resentful, angry, bitter,
- Loss of interest in favorite activities and hobbies
- Withdrawal from anything social, avoidance of friends and family
- Feeling it takes too much energy to interact with others and do things
- Inability to relax, feeling there is always something you must be doing
- Engaging in nervous habits such as binging, chain smoking, drinking
- Feeling you want to hurt yourself
- Having increasing thoughts of death
- Increasing use of medications for anxiety, depression, sleep
- Feeling physically run down and getting sick much more often
The negative effects of caregiver burnout can spill over into every area of life, including your home and social life. In order to prevent burnout, the first step is to recognize the signs and symptoms. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is time to seek the support you need. It is okay to ask for help.