Being a caregiver can be a stressful, all-consuming job that will wear on anyone over time. The responsibility, ups and downs, and stress can pile up over time and lead to burnout.
If you find yourself thinking, “I am so tired of being a caregiver,” you may be on the verge of or already experiencing burnout. As the old adage goes, you cannot take care of others unless you are taking care of yourself, so it is important to take the time to check in and seek help if needed.
What is Caregiver Burnout?
Caregiver burnout is a form of exhaustion that may impact caregivers physically, emotionally, and mentally. Burnout happens when caregivers take on more than they are capable of. It usually occurs when caregivers take on more responsibility without any extra resources.
Burnout does not happen overnight. It is usually a slow process that happens over time but may result in sudden and strong feelings of fatigue, stress, anxiety, and even depression.
Signs of Caregiver Burnout
It’s not uncommon for caregivers to experience some stress or feelings of tiredness. However, burnout is a more serious and chronic problem that should be identified and addressed as soon as possible.
Here are a few signs of caregiver burnout:
- Change in appetite
- Change in sleeping patterns
- Loss of enjoyment in activities
- Brain fog
Burnout can impact everyone differently, and symptoms may manifest in different ways. If you constantly find yourself thinking, “I am so tired of being a caregiver,” that is a strong indication of burnout.
Tips for Managing Caregiver Burnout
Continuing to work while experiencing symptoms of burnout can be dangerous. Caregivers feeling burnout are more prone to making mistakes, lashing out at the person they are caring for, and putting their own health at risk. Here are a few tips for managing burnout.
It is important to take breaks in whatever way possible. Find a trusted family member or friend who can step in, even for short periods of time, to give you a break. Consider respite care to give you a day off periodically.
Sometimes it doesn’t take a long break to feel refreshed and recharged, which is the best way to prevent burnout.
One of the leading reasons caregivers experience burnout is because they are perfectionists and hold themselves to unreasonably high standards. As a caregiver, you need to practice accepting that things won’t always be perfect.
Set realistic goals for yourself, understand that there will be conflict sometimes, and accept the idea of asking for help when you need it.
Caregivers often fall into a habit of giving everything they have to the person they are caring for. Caregiving does not mean that you need to give up your autonomy or sacrifice your life or values. Set boundaries and expectations to preserve both your physical health and your mental well-being.
Talk to a Professional
Keeping feelings and frustrations bottled up can make the situation worse. Feelings of loneliness and isolation are common among caregivers and can contribute to the negative side effects of burnout.
Talking to a professional about your situation can help you learn techniques to manage burnout. Additionally, simply being heard can often relieve feelings of frustration and overwhelm.
Try Coping Tools
Professional caregivers are often trained on how to use tools to cope with stress, frustration, and feelings of being overwhelmed. Some of the most effective tools can be deployed on a daily basis and only take minutes or even seconds to make a big difference in your ability to cope. Examples of coping tools include:
- Deep breathing
- Relaxing your muscles
- Reading encouraging words
- Slowing down
- Taking a break
Listen to what your body and mind are telling you, and use these tools to give yourself a break and check in from time to time.
Seeking Outside Help
One of the most effective ways to prevent caregiver burnout is to seek help from an outside professional. In-home care services provide relief to caregivers when they need it while ensuring that a consistent level of care is maintained.
In-home caregiving is the most flexible way to supplement care and can be arranged for just a few hours a week or up to full-time.
In-home caregivers are highly skilled professionals who know first-hand how dangerous caregiver burnout can be. They are there to provide relief and fill in any gaps in the care schedule.
Many caregivers find that seeking assistance from an in-home care provider takes away stress and feelings of frustration and makes them overall better caregivers. If you find yourself constantly thinking, “I am so tired of being a caregiver,” seeking in-home care services may be a good option for you.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.