Are you responsible for caring for parents, elders, children, or other family members, and/or you work in a caregiving career such as teaching, counseling, nursing, bodywork, and/or more? If so, yes, you are a caregiver.
Research has shown that roughly 80% of long-term care needs are provided by family members rather than outside services. Many caregivers are helping parents while also having their own families to look after and also holding down at least one job. And let’s be real, this is a recipe that leads to burnout.
All too commonly, those who have the most responsibility for caregiving others, whether in family and/or at work, tend to ignore their own health and wellness needs. This too leads to caregiver burnout, which is typically defined as a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion.
Caregivers who reach this burnout stage often experience stress, fatigue, sadness, grief, isolation guilt, anxiety, and depression. Some other symptoms of caregiver burnout include:
1. Withdrawing from others
2. Loss of interest in activities and hobbies
3. Feeling irritable and helpless
4. Changes in appetite, weight, or both
5. Changes in sleep
6. Compromised immune system
7. Extreme fatigue
8. Excessive use of alcohol or drugs
9. Causes of Caregiver Burnout
Caregivers become easily lost in need of the person or persons, they are caring for and forget, or just don’t have time or energy, to meet their own needs and wants. Being so busy, they, often without thought, neglect their own mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health and wellbeing.
hey also deal with huge challenges and emotions each day, and often without help from anyone else. They push their feelings down so they may remain strong for their loved one who is usually battling a significant health crisis of their own.
Counseling Can Be a Lifesaver for Caregivers:
1. Struggling on your own won’t help you or your loved one. It’s important that you get the help you need and deserve.
2. Talking with someone who will listen compassionately and give you advice and coping tools can take a huge burden off your shoulders.
3. Most importantly, a therapist will validate what you are experiencing. This is helpful because you yourself are denying your own existence and your own pain. This is how you have been managing.
A therapist is in your corner. He or she is your champion and will say the things you won’t allow yourself to say. They will point out your own humanity and the need for you to take care of yourself. Hearing this from a neutral third party can often be very helpful.
Self-care is Key for Caregivers. Caregivers are notorious for taking care of others, but not for themselves. Self-compassion has been proven to alleviate anxiety and depression, both key symptoms in caregiver burnout. Learn 5 Easy Steps to Love Yourself More and Feel better. Check out more on the research behind self-compassion as a necessary self-care for our mental health and overall wellbeing.
Self-care means listening to your body’s needs, staying in tune with your intuitive messages, and finding time for fun, downtime, and relaxation. Losing energy and being chronically fatigued is probably the biggest issue we here at our counseling practice from caregivers. Finding ways to work with our energy holistically and mindfully can be important.
Caregiving can come from more of a necessity than a deep desire whether personal or a career choice and may even be the role you took on while you were young without a choice, rather than based on your deep desire to be a caregiver to others. Either way, caregiving can become a burden, and let’s face it, even the most altruistic of us feel burdened at times. This can lead to anger, resentment, bitterness, and anxiety; here’s how to work with these burdens, if this is true for you. Also, check out our article Habits that Improve Your Wellbeing & Mental Health.
Are you caregiving others, is it becoming a burden? Are you doing too much for others and not yourself? Do you feel burnout and not yourself? Don't forget to check in with yourself!