It’s well-documented that caregivers often suffer from emotional and physical health problems because of their overwhelming caregiving duties. According to the Mayo Clinic, caregiver stress is common. In fact, one in three American adults cares for a family member, and this figure is sure to rise.
As a caregiver, you might not realize you’re facing caregiver burnout, but friends and family are often the first ones to notice that your behavior is different. Luckily, these folks can be your greatest supporters during the caregiving journey. Here are three factors that may indicate you’re facing caregiver burnout.
You have a short fuse
When we try to do too much and are feeling overwhelmed, we often lash out at those around us. If you find yourself being grumpy or snippy, having a short fuse or getting easily frustrated with people and life, you may be experiencing caregiver overload.
To combat this behavior, take a deep breath and count to 10 before reacting to any situation. Those 10 seconds can give you a much-needed mental health break, and it’s a great way to start a meditation practice. Imagining you are in a happy place and breathing intentionally could help you be better prepared to handle stressful situations with grace.
You are withdrawing from social gatherings
If you are feeling that you just don’t have the energy or desire to attend family gatherings or meet up with friends, you may be experiencing caregiver burnout. Caregivers often take on way more responsibilities than they can handle, leaving them feeling that they have no time for themselves. This can lead to feelings of sadness and even depression.
Self-care is not selfish. Your loved one may need you, but you also need to be healthy and happy to be the best caregiver you can be. That does not mean you have to be “on” 24/7. Take time for yourself by asking friends and family to take over caregiving duties one day a week, so you can attend an exercise class, take a hike, get a massage, read a book or just sleep in. The little things matter to caregivers and any help is appreciated.
You are getting sick more often and not fully recovering
Burnout results in a lowered immune system, making you a target for illness. According to Health Central, long-term caregiving can shorten your life by about eight years. That’s a sobering statistic and one that needs to change. If you find yourself getting sick a lot or never fully feeling 100%, you may need to take some time off to regroup.
The best caregiver is a healthy caregiver. If you are sick, you can’t fully care for your loved one. And being sick around an older adult can pose a threat to them too. It’s common for caregivers to put their loved ones above themselves, but that is a slippery slope and can backfire.
Caregiving is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard work and can be a rollercoaster of emotions. But you can handle it with a little self-care, and a little help from your friends and family.
Get In-Home Support
Whether you need elderly companion care services, 24-hour home care, or in-home caregiver services for a loved one who is recovering from surgery, FirstLight Home Care can help. We give you the support you need to provide the best care for your loved one. Request a personalized price quote from your local FirstLight Home Care team.
If caring is your calling and you’re interested in a career with FirstLight Home Care, find open positions with one of our local offices.