In order to remain healthy so that you can continue to be a caregiver, you must be able to see your own limitations and learn to care for yourself as well as others.
It is important for all of you to make the effort to recognize the signs of burnout. This is especially important for those caring for family or friends. Too often caregivers who are not closely associated with the healthcare profession get overlooked and lost in the commotion of medical emergencies and procedures. You must allow those who do care for you, who are interested enough to say something, to tell you about your behavior; for instance, a noticeable decrease in energy or mood changes.
The following are symptoms your might notice in yourself, or others might say they notice in you. Think about what is being said, and consider the possibility of burnout.
Some important signs to consider:
- Feelings of depression
- A sense of ongoing and constant fatigue
- Decreasing interest in work
- Decrease in work production
- Withdrawal from social contacts
- Increase in use of stimulants and alcohol
- Increasing fear of death
- Change in eating patterns
- Feelings of helplessness
You will need strategies to ward off or cope with burnout. These are recommended:
- Participate in a support network
- Consult with professionals to explore burnout issues
- Attend a support group to receive feedback and coping strategies
- Vary the focus of caregiving responsibilities if possible (rotate responsibilities with family members)
- Exercise daily and maintain a healthy diet
- Establish “quiet time” for meditation
- Get a weekly massage
- Stay involved in hobbies
By acknowledging the reality that being a caregiver is filled with stress and anxiety, and understanding the potential for burnout, caregivers can be forewarned and guard against this debilitating condition. As much as it is said, it can still not be said too often, the best way to be an effective caregiver is to take care of yourself.
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