Caregiving is the act of physically or mentally helping out a person, on an everyday basis having some dedicating time for them. It can be, from feeding and washing someone, to being there, providing emotional comfort and listening to them. Caregivers can be close relatives, a friend or a partner. It can be a professional too. If you notice a large part of your day revolving around taking care, you will be able to find this article helpful.
It is a very satisfying and fulfilling experience on most days. The process of providing warmth, nourishment, and knowing you have made a meaningful
difference nurtures our soul. However, with time and lack of proper boundaries, it can be disruptive to the caregivers- has been observed to become a tiring and draining process.
Stress and burnout
There is an intense amount of stress associated especially with caregivers working around the clock, without any form of support for themselves. When we invest excessive amounts of time towards others, we lose the sense of our well-being. We stop prioritising our needs. This leads to a prolonged accumulation of stress that will eventually lead to burnout.
Burnout is a state of physical and mental exhaustion marked by emotional draining, a feeling of emptiness and constantly being tired. People who are burned out are in a very fragile mental state. There are several emotions and experiences that such a person may undergo.
Irritability and anger can be one of them. Things that do not usually make them angry will easily trigger them. On the other hand, a sense of exhaustion/emptiness can also be there. They may not be motivated to do things that usually make them happy and it may not give them the same amount of happiness if they did do it also. Overbearing anxiety and feeling of overwhelm may also set in, and things seem to be out of hand. A need to take breaks, carve out your own time would be tempting but all of these feelings and thoughts are shadowed by guilt that ‘they shouldn’t be feeling this way caregiver because you are the caregiver, and a lot of times, one is made to feel that they cannot ask for help since they are not overtly suffering.
If you are experiencing any of this, it is most likely that you are having a burnout. You must know how to deal with such difficult times. If you have identified burnout within yourself, or you are a caregiver and want to avoid it, here are things you can do:
Dealing with Burnout can be-
Self-care: To prioritise your own needs and take care of yourself too is the important thing you can do. Building hobbies and activities to relax are included in this.
Boundaries: Setting firm boundaries- both physically and emotionally.
Asking for help: Whenever you feel overburdened or feel like taking a break, remember to ask for help and share your experience with those around you.
Routine: Incorporate time outs and small activities of self-care into your routines
Accepting limitations: It is common to set high expectations for ourselves and overwork till we meet that. We have to foster acceptance about how much we can do.
Support group: These help to meet people going through similar situations, to relate and share experiences.
Therapy: Reaching out to a professional will help to feel heard, understood and provide a space to reflect on your own needs and beliefs