How Do You Deal with a Caregiver Fatigue?
Being a caregiver to someone you love can be rewarding, but also emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting.
Caregiver fatigue, also known as caregiver burnout occurs when stress from everyday caregiving duties becomes overwhelming, causing a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion. Fatigue may be accompanied by a change in caregiver’s attitude – once passionate and considerate caregiver, you may become indifferent and negative.
Caregiver burnout occurs when caregivers become so focused on the needs of a person in their care that they neglect their own wellbeing. If you often experience symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress, you may be suffering from caregiver fatigue.
Caregiver Fatigue Symptoms
Caregiver burnout can seriously damage your health. So, recognizing and addressing fatigue on time is very important. Here are the most common signs of caregiver stress and burnout.
- Feeling constantly tired
- Feeling guilty if you spend time on yourself
- Feeling worried, sad, irritable, and overwhelmed
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Weakened immune system
How to Manage a Caregiver Fatigue
If you feel that the emotional, mental, and physical demands of caregiving are draining you, take advantage of resources available to help you manage caregiver stress.
- Seek Help
Have a list of resources or people who can help you. For example, if you are caring for a family member, ask other family members to take over sometimes.
- Get Connected
Connect with other caregivers to socialize and get support. Many communities have support groups and resources available to caregivers, so inquire about these services in your city. People in support groups understand what you may be going through as a caregiver, and can offer valuable advice and support. Also, there are many online support groups available to help alleviate stress.
- Practice Time Management
Set realistic goals and manage your time effectively. You can achieve this by prioritizing tasks and identifying time-wasters during the day. Break larger tasks into smaller ones and avoid multitasking to minimize stress.
- Be Realistic
While it is normal to feel guilty sometimes, don’t allow this feeling to wash over you each time when you are putting your needs first. Be self-compassionate and affirm yourself. Believe that you are doing the best you can and have confidence in your decisions.
- Set the Boundaries
Being a good caregiver still doesn’t mean that you can and should carry the burden of the disease for a person in your care. Or that you should take on more duties than you can handle. Talk about your feelings in the family and clarify the boundaries within the family system (for example, let your family know that hosting family gatherings or parties make you feel drained and that you are not willing to take responsibility for them).
- Take Care of Your Health
Don’t neglect your health while caring for a loved one with dementia or other illness. Make sure to exercise regularly (even if it’s just going for a walk each day), eat nutritious food, and stick to healthy sleep habits. Practice mindfulness meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and other relaxation techniques, and spend time in nature.
Keep in mind that taking care of yourself is not a sign of selfishness, but a foundation of your good health and a condition for providing high-quality caregiving.