Are you exhausted all of the time? Maybe you have a hard time focusing on the things you used to care deeply about or are losing interest in your day-to-day activities. Did you know that at least 20% of the caregiving population suffers from depression, stress, or burnout, which occurs at a rate almost double compared to the rest of the population?
If you’re a family caregiver, there’s no question as to whether or not you have a lot going on. No matter if you’re caregiving full time or work a full-time job and manage caregiving in addition to your other job, caregiving in and of itself is a full-time physical and mental workload. It can be hard to take time to make sure you’re doing okay, not only as a caregiver but also as a person.
It’s important to stop and check in with yourself to make sure you’re doing okay, as well as take steps to help reduce your stress, burnout, or other exhaustion-induced symptoms, such as depression or anxiety.
Staying on top of stress and burnout may not be your highest priority, but it’s important that you prioritize self-care and stress management in order to stay healthy and keep your loved ones healthy as well. Even making small changes every day can have a huge impact.
Today, we’re going to talk about identifying and managing stress and burnout, as well as some practical steps you can take to help manage these feelings before they take over.
Here at Avanlee Care, we’re passionate about helping reduce the load on caregivers and are here to help simplify some of the burdens of caregiving. You can get started for free today on our website.
Identifying and Managing Stress
We live in a deeply stressful and overwhelming world, and it’s easy for stress to creep into our lives without us paying much attention to its impacts.
According to NAMI, you’re most vulnerable to stress when you’re:
- Not getting enough sleep
- Not having a network of support
- Experiencing a major life change such as moving, the death of a loved one, starting a new job, having a child, or getting married
- Experiencing poor physical health
- Not eating well
For caregivers especially, lack of sleep and lack of support can be two major stressors and are something that many frequently experience. Additionally, AARP found that when caregivers feel alone, 72 percent report feeling high stress, in comparison to only 24 percent of those who do not feel alone.
Stress can feel like:
- Being overwhelmed
- Feelings of anxiety or fear
- Brain Fog
- Feeling like you have too much on your plate
- Unexplained anger or frustration
It’s helpful to identify these feelings as they come up (even make a list on your phone when you feel them) so you can track them and then take an assessment of how you’re doing. If you’re recording multiple negative feelings or emotions daily, it may be helpful to take a step back and talk to a professional or get some help.
Identifying and Managing Burnout
Burnout is officially classified as a mental health concern and is noted as being marked by feelings of exhaustion, feeling mentally “checked out”, or other negative or cynical feelings about your job(s), and may result in reduced productivity. You can also take a free screening online to help identify if you’re experiencing burnout.
It’s important to know that burnout is more than just exhaustion and can have long-term mental health effects if left unchecked. Burnout is a form of chronic stress and has long-lasting impacts if ignored. Additionally, burnout can seep into your relationships and friendships, rearing its ugly head through your entire social circle.
What You Can Do
There are many practical steps you can take to help avoid stress and burnout, but it’s important to evaluate what will be the best for your own mental health. Some people find great stress relief in time spent in nature or exercising, while others prefer to find some quiet downtime in meditation or journaling.
It’s important to take time to do what you find brings you the most relief in times of stress or burnout, but here are a few tips we’ve found to be helpful to get you started.
Lighten your load. Ask family members for help in caregiving. If you’re managing caregiving alone and have other family members near you, it may be worth seeing if you can split some of the responsibilities so you don’t have to manage everything yourself.
Journal out your feelings. Journaling can help you manage stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as provide an outlet for negative feelings.
Take a break. If you’re feeling overstimulated or overwhelmed, try stepping out of the room or even going and sitting outside for a few minutes. Even 15 minutes can make a big difference when you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.
Get more exercise. Even a 20-minute walk by yourself around the neighborhood can help give you a quick break and boost your mood.
Talk to a professional. Talking to a trained mental health professional has been shown to help improve coping strategies, help you make healthy long-term choices, manage and regulate your emotions, and can help you feel more supported.
Download the Avanlee App for your family. We can’t take care of it all for you, but the Avanlee app can help you manage medications and appointments, as well as stay on top of your loved one’s health biometrics for easier delegation of care.
Finally, if you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, please don’t wait to reach out for help.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 as soon as possible. They have trained counselors available to speak with you 24/7 and assist in a crisis situation.
Get in touch with your mental health professionals, let them know what’s going on, and get their advice. Caregiving can be an isolating and emotionally difficult journey, and at the end of the day, it’s important to also take care of yourself during this time. Find a trustworthy friend or therapist you can talk to as an emotional outlet during difficult times. Try to delegate some care if you’re able to spread the work out among your loved ones. Finally, we’re here to help simplify some of your caregiving needs, and you can reach out 24/7 to firstname.lastname@example.org if you run into any questions as you use the Avanlee App.