Caring for a loved one with a chronic illness involves an effort from all quarters – emotional, physical and mental. However, with time, the mental toll of caring for a loved one can snowball, deteriorating the health of the caregiver, leading them to a stage of burnout. And when the caretaker reaches that stage, it is neither good for the loved one nor for the caretaker.
Symptoms of caretaker burnout
Here are some symptoms that indicate that a caretaker is moving towards burnout. Recognizing these symptoms in a caretaker can help take preventive action so that the situation does not deteriorate for either the patient or the caregiver.
- Feelings of anxiety or irritability
- Difficulty sleeping
- Disturbed eating pattern
- Overreacting to minor problems
- Increased smoking, drinking, or eating
- Ignoring responsibilities
- Feeling resentful
- Gaps in care
- Social withdrawal
- Blaming self for the patient’s condition
Coping with caretaker burnout
Here are some ways that the caretaker can adopt to cope with the stress.
Feel empowered: The primary reason why most caregivers feel stressed is because they feel powerless. And this feeling is aggravated if they come in this situation if they were not expecting it. However, they must understand that the situation is under their control. They can get the extra help or time that they need.
Explore other interests: Caregiving is a full-time job. However, the caretaker must take out time to invest in other interests and hobbies, even if they are as simple as painting, reading, or listening to music. Try to take out that half an hour for things that refresh them and make them feel good.
Take help: A caretaker also needs a break. So, if they are feeling overwhelmed, they can ask for help. Also, be open to people offering to help. Say yes whenever someone else offers to help.
Applaud small victories: Whenever the caretaker feels discouraged or feels that their efforts are not making a difference, they should make a list of things that they have done to help their patient. Remember that treating the patient completely might not be in their hands, but they have done a lot to make them feel comfortable, safe and loved.
Learn to manage the stress: The caretaker should learn different tricks to manage their stress. They can either learn short meditation techniques or deep breathing exercises.
Accept limits: The caretaker should accept their limits. It is all right if they want to take a break or take it slowly.
Maintain personal relationship: The caretaker should ensure that they are not compromising on their relationships. They should talk to their loved ones regularly and also try to meet them as well.
Take care of health: The caretaker should take care of their health. They should eat healthy and exercise regularly. They should ensure that they visit their doctor regularly and do not compromise on their sleep.
Caretakers are an important part of the society as they provide a valuable service. If none of the above tricks help the caretaker, then maybe they need to seek advice from a mental health therapist.
Mental health disorders are nothing to feel guilty or embarrassed about. They are treatable and highly manageable. With the help of proven scientific methods and evidence-based treatment modalities, patients have achieved long-term recovery enjoying a happier and productive life despite of suffering from mental disorders.
If you or someone you know needs assistance in dealing with a mental health disorder, then call the California Mental Health Helpline. We provide reliable information about reputed mental health treatment centers in California. Call our 24/7 mental health helpline (855) 559-3923 or chat online with one of our representatives to discuss your options for mental health treatment in California.