Coping With Caregiver Fatigue
When caring for others is a priority, it's still important to take care of yourself, too. Without taking time to focus on yourself, you risk becoming overwhelmed by stress and fatigue. We know these feelings as "caregiver fatigue", and it involves your body, your emotions, and your mind. One of the biggest issues in overcoming caregiver fatigue is guilt, but that's really not something we should feel bad about. Caregiving is a stressful and sometimes full-time job, so it's natural to feel the weight of all your responsibilities.
With burnout and stress come changes in your approach to care that make it more difficult to do your best. It also takes a toll on your body and makes you more susceptible to exhaustion, illness, and disease, something you'll want to avoid when taking care of others. It's not your fault that you're struggling. Caregiver fatigue is a common issue and stems from several causes.
The causes of caregiver fatigue range from experiencing a lack of control, trying to cater to unreasonable demands and unrealistic expectations, and not knowing how best to cope with what's asked of you. Many people are given the role of caregiver unexpectedly and this gives you little time to prepare. One of the best ways to equip yourself with the tools for successful caregiving is to take care of yourself so you can perform at your best. This includes keeping an eye out for evidence of caregiver fatigue.
Signs of stress, fatigue, and burnout in caregivers include:
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Feeling down, hopeless, helpless, or resentful
- Changes in your sleep and eating habits
- Neglecting self-care
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Feelings of self-harm
- Feelings of wanting to hurt the person you care for
- Exhaustion of body and mind
Try some of the following to help ease your struggles:
- Let others help you because you don't need to do this all on your own.
- Embrace your responsibilities to others and yourself.
- Concentrate on what you have control over instead of wishing for the impossible or improbable.
- Celebrate when you can. Whether it's a big milestone or a tiny win, acknowledge your successes so you focus not only on perceived failures.
- Avoid asking 'why?' and focus on the 'how'. It's easy to question and doubt your caregiving choices, but focus on how you can overcome your challenges instead.
- Connect with others in similar situations to find support and validation.
- Set goals for you and the people you care for. It's good to have something to focus on, as this directs your effort and attention towards the positive.
- Most importantly, never feel bad for taking time to care for yourself.
These steps will help you avoid burnout and fatigue when you're feeling stressed. Don't worry, there are others out there who can help you and who you can help too. For more tips and information on caregiver fatigue, visit our blog or reach out to us today on (305) 995-0130 or visit us online.