For most caregivers, the answer is: probably not. When you're actively caring for a family member, it's easy to place your own needs on the back burner, focusing instead on the wellbeing of your loved one. Yet by ignoring your own needs, you're putting yourself at serious risk of caregiver burnout. Below are four signs that you're suffering from burnout, and suggestions for how you can better take care of you.
1. Your emotions change on a dime.One minute you may feel sad or helpless and the next minute you're furious. This disparaging mix of emotional distress strikes the majority of caregivers at some point. The mental and physical stresses of caregiving can make individuals feel as though they are on a rollercoaster of emotions.The Fix: It's natural to feel a vast range of emotions, as your life has changed dramatically, but depression and anxiety can have serious ramifications on your health if left untreated. You can't provide the care your loved one deserves if you don't make your own health a priority. Check-in with your doctor and be honest about your feelings. Your physician can treat any underlying medical conditions and also refer you to support groups and resources. Also, make sure to cut yourself some slack. Remind yourself that you may not be able to do everything, but you are doing everything that you can...and that is enough.After caring for her parents, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, Chief Medical Editor for NBC News, described her own experience with caregiver burnout."During the tough times I, like so many others, forgot to check in with myself. Within months I had put on 15 pounds, was sleeping five hours a night and was just emotionally raw. I didn't know then what I know now - that caregiver burnout is real."
2. Flu-season seems to last year-round.Caregiver stress doesn't only affect your emotions, but it also affects your immune system. If you seem to catch every bug that comes your way, it may be time to listen to your body and give it the TLC it needs.
The Fix: You would never let your loved one miss a doctor's appointment, so make sure you don't ignore your own appointments either! Schedule regular check-ups with your doctor and make sure you are up to date on all your immunizations and screenings. Also, monitor your diet and sleep habits to ensure you are getting the nutrients and sleep that your body needs.
3. You can't remember the last time you had a "me day".Everyone deserves a break - even you!The Fix: A two-week European vacation may not be realistic, but an evening out with friends or a few hours of personal time to read a novel or see a movie can help you refuel. Take some time for you, and your body will thank you.
If you are suffering from caregiver burnout and are in need of additional support, Home Care Assistance can help. Our care team is here to support you and your loved one 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call us today at 1-866-454-8346!
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