Taking on the role of caregiver is a selfless and loving act millions of Americans take on every year. It is a huge responsibility that takes independence, empathy, physical and mental strength, and time. And sometimes giving that time can lead to burnout on many different levels. Burnout can take many different forms and affect people in different ways. But, it is important to understand there are ways to come back; regaining energy after caregiver burnout is possible and it will improve your lifestyle and how you take care of your loved ones.
Regaining Energy: Coming Back After Burnout
If you start to notice signs of caregiver burnout, it may be time you take a step back and look at your own health. There is a reason that in the event of a plane mishap, you are required to put your oxygen mask on before your family’s; to be able to take care of them, you must first take care of yourself. But losing heart and energy throughout your caregiving process is common, but you’re not alone. To overcome your struggles, you must understand them and what they mean.
Losing energy can come in the form of emotional stress, physical burnout, or mental fatigue. These different types of burnout can result in depression or over-exhaustion or even a loss of your sense of self. It is important to recognize the different types and their signs to begin regaining energy.
Different Types of Burnout
Physical burnout is typically the first most common and recognizable type of emotional burnout. Caregivers are constantly lifting heavy objects, wheelchairs, medical equipment, or sometimes the person they care for. It is easy to forget proper techniques for lifting heavy things when another person or a short amount of time are involved. Physical burnout can also take the form of body exhaustion from a lack of sleep. If someone requires 24-hour care, having a proper 8 or more hours of sleep takes the back seat.
Mental Burnout revolves around the constant worrying a caregiver puts their self through. There are medications to remember to pick up and properly distribute. There are also doctors appointments and daily routines for multiple people to remember. Many caregivers also have a full-time family to take care of which require worrying over children’s school schedules, lunches, sporting events, dinners and so much more. There is also worrying about the future of their loved one and plans for after they are gone. Their compassion forces them to worry about taking a break and handling their own problems.
Emotional Burnout is different as it concerns the caregiver’s work-life balance. Similar to the symptoms of the above-mentioned types of burnout, emotional burnout can bring on constant guilt. They feel like they are spending equal time with those they are caring for, their family, or their friends. They also stress over money and managing their time. Sometimes it is hard for friends of caregivers to understand the importance of their new role and what it involves and stop reaching out. This can leave caregivers feeling abandoned and guilty about not spending time with those people. It can also force them to resent the caring job they took on.
Steps to Regaining Energy
There are ways to regain energy and even prevent these types of burnout from happening to you if you are in a caregiving role. Maybe caregiving doesn’t fit your lifestyle. Or maybe you just need help with time management. There are great tools for time management that can help alleviate some of the stresses of scheduling and planning. If you’re already experiencing burnout and need help regaining your energy. Here are some ways to alleviate stress from the different types of burnout.
Physical Burnout– If your caregiving job requires a lot of physical demands, take care of your body. If you notice pain in your back from constant heavy lifting, take some rest. Your body won’t be able to carry on forever. Remember proper lifting techniques; always keep a level base with your body and lift with your knees – never your back. Taking just a few seconds to do this may help improve your physical strength. And if you’re running low on sleep, take power naps. This can mean taking naps the same time your loved one is taking their nap. Power naps can save your sleep habits and improve how alert you are during the day.
Mental Burnout– Try to slow yourself down during the day. Worrying is an awful habit and difficult to break, but the minute you do your world will open up. Stopping worrying can be as simple as making to-do lists for the day at hand. Don’t focus so much on the future. If you are trying to control something out of your hands, let it go. Take 30 minutes of your day, whether in the morning or before you go to sleep, to practice restful breathing techniques. Take several deep breaths in, hold and release as you stretch. There are also popular mindfulness techniques that help you anchor yourself to the present and release stress.
Emotional Burnout– The first step in dealing with guilt in this way is to let go. You cannot control the outcome of everything. Let your friends know what your caregiving position involves. But, if they are important to you, take one day or even just a few hours to spend with them. Find the value in what you do and don’t be afraid to talk about your job. Find a support system, whether it is your family or a professional, and let them know how you feel instead of bottling up any guilt you feel. There is never anything wrong with asking for help. Regaining energy in your daily life will only help improve your caregiving abilities.