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Caregiver Burnout and Ways to Manage

Sometimes stress and burnout can catch you unaware as being a primary care-giver can be a demanding and difficult task.

It is important that you recognise your stress levels and manage it well. The following are some insights that may be helpful for you.


What is Caregiver Burnout
Caregiver burnout is a combination of physical, emotional, and mental fatigue that may be accompanied by a change in attitude -- from positive and caring to negative and indifferent. Burnout may occur when caregivers (1) do not have support, (2) do not feel supported, or (3)  try to give more than they are able to -- either physically or financially.

Caregivers may experience exhaustion, stress, anxiety, and depression. Many caregivers experience occasional bouts of rage or frustration and then feel guilty for having these feelings. They may also feel bad for spending time on themselves rather than with the patient.

 
Causes of Caregiver Burnout
Caregivers are often so focused on tending to others that they sideline their personal physical, emotional, and spiritual health. The demands of a caregiver may seem overwhelming and inundating, leading to feelings of exhaustion, inadequacies and helplessness, and, ultimately, burnout.  Some common factors that can also lead to caregiver burnout include:

Role Confusion
Some may find the role of caregiver confusing and all-consuming. They find it hard to separate the role of caregiver from their roles as spouse, lover, child, parent etc.  For example, some parents may find themselves consumed with nursing their sick child at the expense of sustaining a loving relationship with their spouse.

Unrealistic Expectations
Many caregivers expect their involvement or sacrifice to lead to a positive outcome on the health or well-being of the patient. For certain cancers that are inherently progressive or discovered at a terminal stage, these expectations may only lead to severe disappointment.

Lack of Control
Many caregivers become frustrated by a lack of financial resources, family support or skills to sufficiently plan, manage and organise their loved one's care.

Unreasonable Demands
Some see providing care as their exclusive responsibility and may place unreasonable demands upon themselves.

Many caregivers are unable to identify that they are feeling a burnout and eventually get to the point where they cannot function effectively or may even fall ill themselves. It is important for you to note the following symptoms.

 
Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout
These are similar to the symptoms of stress and depression. They include:

Physical


Emotional

Mental

Behavioral

 
Burnout Busters
Be kind and patient with yourself.

Many caregivers experience occasional bouts of anger or frustration and then feel guilty for having these feelings. Try the following practical strategies to help you manage better:

 
Deep Breathing Techniques that You Can Try at Home

  1. Put on soft and relaxing music in a cosy, comfortable corner of your home
  2. Set-up aromatherapy candles (if you like); we recommend Lavender or Rose scents
  3. Sit on a comfortable chair or lie down on a hard bed or mattress
  4. Close your eyes gently and feel the atmosphere on top of your skin
  5. Set asides your worries and surrender your negative emotions; simply focus on your breath
  6. Breathe in slowly and deeply, hold your ‘in-breath’ for one second. Then breathe out steadily
  7. Focus on your hands and fingers. Clench your fingers and after 3 in-and-out breaths, release. Savour the melting away of the tension in your hands
  8. Repeat these movements with any part of your body
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