Caregiver burnout isn’t something that happens all at once. We all have good days and bad days, which is normal. Eventually, though, we may find ourselves inching dangerously close to a meltdown over a situation that would have been considered a mild irritation prior to caregiving. The future begins to look bleak, and our responsibilities seem endless. That’s when you know you’ve reached a breaking point. So, how do you spot and extinguish the small fires that, left smoldering, can eventually lead to burnout? What do you do if you feel your nerves are already fried? The best approach, of course, is to take preventative action before burnout is upon you. But, for this to work, each caregiver must understand their own limits and maintain honest self-awareness throughout their journey.
The Sneaky Side of Caregiver Burnout: Oftentimes, burnout sneaks up on a caregiver. Some people don't realize the cumulative effects of caregiver burden. One way to track changes in your physical and mental health is to keep a daily log or a diary. How are you feeling on this particular day? And the next? And the next? By making a few notes each day in a journal or in a file on your computer, you’ll become more aware of your own moods, actions, and reactions.
Many people go through their daily caregiving routine on autopilot without acknowledging their emotions or questioning why they feel the way they do. If we get to know ourselves better, we will be more likely to catch the thoughts and signs that we’re being drawn into a negative or hopeless mindset and seek help before we’ve gone over the edge.
If you find yourself thinking, doing, or saying any of the following things, heed the warning that you are burning out.
Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories.“I hold onto your book as a life preserver and am reading it slowly on purpose...I don't want it to end.” ...Craig William Dayton, Film Composer
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