Caregiving is one of the most difficult, selfless and unpredictable roles anyone could take on, so it’s not surprising that caregivers start running out of fuel. While burnout is common and perfectly normal, it is also a debilitating condition that needs to be recognized and treated. Not sure whether you are suffering from burnout? Read on to find out the causes and symptoms, and learn how you can start getting better.
What Causes Burnout?
Lack of control. Seniors can suffer from a number of physical and emotional ailments, and their conditions can change or worsen overnight. Caregivers may feel like they have no way of exerting control over their situation or knowing what to expect next; they are simply along for the ride. This can lead to feelings of anger, sadness and helplessness.
Too many roles. Most caregivers occupy multiple other roles; they are spouses, parents, friends and children. The demands of caregiving, coupled with these other roles, can cause a person to feel as if they are being pulled in numerous different directions. This can be extremely stressful, and can make someone feel as if they aren’t putting enough time into any of their individual relationships.
Emotional Stress. Caregivers are often emotionally attached to the person they are looking after, which adds an extra layer of emotion and anxiety. Seeing a loved one in pain, and feeling responsible for their health and happiness, can be a huge emotional burden.
High expectations. Caregivers often place unreasonable demands on themselves; they want to be constantly available and able to help the people around them. By expecting too much of themselves, caregivers can start feeling inadequate or overwhelmed, and shouldering blame when anything goes wrong.
What Are the Signs of Burnout?
Getting sick. A physical sign of burnout is getting sick more often than usual. Caregivers may start catching every bug going around and constantly feel under the weather.
Mood fluctuations. Caregivers experiencing burnout often feel overwhelming stress and sadness, and may start losing patience with other people out of frustration.
Lack of hobbies or self-care. A warning sign for burnout is when caregivers stop participating in activities they enjoy and no longer pay attention to their personal health. This may include eating an unhealthy diet or dropping out of activities like yoga class or book club.
Trouble sleeping. Insomnia is a common symptom of burnout. Caregivers may experience trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, and feel constantly groggy or exhausted.
If any of these symptoms sound familiar, then you may be suffering from burnout, but it’s no reason to panic. There are steps you can take to get back on your feet, and to make sure that you are cared for, as well. If you have any additional questions about recognizing or treating burnout, let us know in the comments.