In fact, keeping yourself in reasonably good shape is one of the core principles of being a caregiver. Put on your oxygen mask first before you help those traveling with you, as the flight attendant says. Yet burnout is a constant threat because of the time-consuming nature of the demands on you.
M. Ross Seligson, a psychologist writing in Today's Caregiver, pointed out that you might not even see the burnout coming. It's important to listen to the feedback of people around you. They may be able to see it before you can.
Some of symptoms are classic signs of depression:
- Constant fatigue.
- Loss of interest in your work.
- Loss of interest in your hobbies.
- Decreased work production.
- Withdrawal from friends and associates.
- More use of alcohol or drugs.
- A lot more eating or a lot less eating.
- Feelings of helplessness.
- Feelings of hostility.
- Too much sleep or major sleep disturbances.
- Take a quarterly respite away from home, if that's where the caregiving takes place.
- Get involved in a support group.
- Take your nutritional and exercise needs seriously.
- Focus on what you have accomplished, rather than what you did not do.
- Keep a gratitude journal.
- Listen to uplifting music.
- Make a list of people who should be helping you and are not. Visit them with requests.
- Let go of the guilt. You cannot solve this problem.
- Be firm in what you can commit to, and don't establish a pattern of breaking your own boundaries.
- Pray and meditate.