In our day to day lives, we all know burnout is a real threat to our peace and productivity. We make it a priority to go home or schedule time off every week to rest and recharge so we can be the best workers we can be during the rest of the work week. But what happens when you get burned out in your own home because you can’t keep up with the care that your loved ones need? This graphic from Cottage Assisted Living helps us take a look at some of the common mental & physical symptoms that can help give us some clues of what to look for.
First, our mental health can take a massive toll when we are burned out without any recovery time. Feeling frustrated is a normal part of life but as a caregiver, this can easily go from normal daily frustration to feeling overwhelmed and out of control. We can wake up feeling strong and capable one day; and helpless and tired the next, with a complete lack of motivation and energy to start projects of our own. When we take care of people it is easy to become focused solely on how they are feeling and forget to check in on ourselves; even typically steady individuals can end up encountering uncharacteristic mood swings because they are so busy preserving the steadiness of their loved ones that they feel they don’t have time or energy to recharge themselves.
Second, and sometimes surprisingly, our physical health can also suffer because of the stress of caregiving. Being a caregiver to someone you love usually means you are on call 24/7 and responsible in case of an emergency; this puts not only your mind, but your body in a state of holding stress. Stress causes our bodies to release hormones to ready us for fight or flight, which is an incredibly powerful thing! However, consistently living in this state can actually weaken our immune systems as well, even to the point of causing us to get sick more often! This state of constant pressure can also put a strain on our physical relationships with our partners and friends – while we concentrate on making sure our elderly loved ones are loved and surrounded by companions, it can be easy to forget about our own need for relationship and feel like we don’t have time or energy to invest in them like we want to.
As a caregiver, make sure you check in on yourself. If you are feeling overwhelmed, lacking motivation, and having mood swings often, you can identify that you may need to draw some boundaries in your day to day to preserve your peace. If you feel fine emotionally but are on call 24/7, losing touch with friends, and getting sick more often, this may also be a sign to make some changes.
Lastly, caregivers have a unique situation that makes it difficult to draw that boundary line between work and rest. Although it can be one of one of the most taxing roles, it can also be one of the most rewarding. Stay self aware, draw the appropriate boundaries, and don’t be afraid to ask for help – you aren’t alone! There are a lot of different options in the caregiving field that can allow you to live the healthiest life for both you and your family. MediCall is here to help you in this important season in your life.