No Rest For The Weary: Avoiding Caregiver Burnout – Part 1

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By Lauren Hill

seniormanWhile rewarding, being a full time caregiver can be an extremely stressful undertaking. Many caregivers work full time jobs in addition to their after work duties, leaving very little time for rest and relaxation.

Caregiver burnout is a very real problem for many people who find themselves in the role. Not only can burnout affect your mood and mental health, it can negatively impact your physical health as well. Numerous studies have shown that stress can have adverse effects on health, and caregivers are usually in a state of constant stress.

Caregivers tend to put the needs of others before their own. While this is incredibly noble, it can also be quite detrimental to a person’s overall well-being. Self-care is imperative to just about everyone, and is even more important to those working in a caregiving capacity. If you are unwell, mentally or physically, you may be unable to provide adequate care for others.

Recognizing burnout is the first step to dealing with the issue. The following are some common indicators that the stress of tending to a loved one has become unmanageable and requires intervention.

Irritability/Lashing Out

It happens to most people. Everyday stress and fatigue becomes so severe we begin lashing out at others. For caregivers, this situation is exacerbated. The stress of everyday living, including things like kids and work, is compounded by the added responsibility of providing care for a loved one. This can lead to things like irritability, mood swings, and other negative personality behaviors.

So what do you do? There are a number of ways to deal with stress. A great start is through exercise. Physical activity is a fantastic stress reliever. Even a brisk walk a few times a day can do wonders for your mood and help put things into perspective.

Stress can also be alleviated by some much needed alone time. Try to take some time for yourself each day to engage in an activity you enjoy. These little respites can work wonders on your overall mood.

Extreme Sadness

womanIt’s natural to feel overwhelmed by your many duties as a caregiver. However, prolonged episodes of sadness could be an indicator that you are suffering from burnout.

A down mood that lasts longer than a week or two is a good reason to get in touch with a mental health professional. While the situation for caregivers may be different from most people seeking treatment, talking with a therapist can be a great way to sort through the many complicated feelings of providing care to a loved one. Many caregivers tend to feel isolated in their lives. They don’t want to burden others needlessly, and may not have the time for socializing that other people enjoy. Seeking professional help can be extremely beneficial to the mental state of a caregiver.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this article shortly…..

– Guest author Lauren Hill is a contributing author for