Tuesday, November 3, 2015

How to Stop Caregiver Burnout

Caregiving is one of the most difficult challenges anyone can face. If you are a caregiver for someone with a debilitating disease or other serious condition, you may be at elevated risk for chronic stress and burnout.

The suggestions below are based on my own experiences as a caregiver for my father during his final six months of life along with insights from my work helping clients navigate the troubled waters of caregiving to loved ones. I was blessed with strong family support and help with my father, but even with that support the emotional and physical toll was beyond anything I could have imagined before actually experiencing the journey.

Why Chronic Stress Matters

Chronic stress can result in periods of prolonged depression, anxiety, anger, sadness, and a range of other problem emotions. It's important to know chronic stress may contribute to medical and emotional conditions that can have serious consequences for your health and emotional well-being.

Caregiver stress is born from the emotional and physical strain that goes with caring for someone in constant need of help and attention. There is often a sense of overwhelm, particularly when a caregiver has limited opportunities to step out of the caregiving role.

The stress response can take several forms. Sometimes you can feel angry and frustrated. Other times you may feel a profound sense of helplessness, hopelessness, and sadness. You may feel as though you are on an emotional rollercoaster that never seems to stop. The ebb and flow of emotions - positive and negative - is common when acting in a caregiving role.

Steps to Help Stop Caregiver Stress and Burnout
  • Recognize when you are experiencing elevated stress. Signs may include an inability to fall or stay asleep, not getting enough sleep, chaotic thinking that may sometimes include violent thoughts, making mistakes giving medications, feeling alone and abandoned, or experiencing a chronic sense of depression or anxiety. 
  • Once you notice you are in a stress response, take action to change that response. This can include frequent mini-breaks, the application of EFT / Tapping or other stress releasing techniques such as a short yoga session, deep, slow breathing, or periods of meditation to help break the cycle of stressful thoughts and feelings. 
  • Talk with a trusted disinterested professional or friend to help work through strategies that better enable you to handle the day-to-day demands. This conversation should not be a pity party. Rather, look for the key stressors in your situation and identify ways to mitigate or eliminate them.
  • Ask - and demand if necessary - help from other family members. If they can't physically be present, ask for financial help to hire others so you can do activities that are fun and emotionally nourishing.
  • Use self-talk throughout the day that supports your emotional well-being. For example, saying, "I'm feeling frustrated, but I know this too shall pass. It always does", acknowledges what you're experiencing in that given moment, but it reminds you the feeling is temporary.
Additional Information

For more information to include additional suggestions for dealing with caregiver stress, download the Caregiver Stress Fact Sheet from the Office of Women's Health. That Fact Sheet is available at http://1.usa.gov/1k8lglZ.

Finally, if you believe you're experiencing chronic stress, or any physical or emotional challenge that may be affecting your health or emotional well-being, I suggest talking with your medical doctor or other appropriate medical professional. 

Please always remember, you owe it to yourself, the person you're caring for, and your loved ones to care for the caregiver. That would be you.



Stephen Carter
Stress Solutions, LLC

To learn more about how EFT / TFT / Tapping and Energy Psychology can help with stress and other challenging emotions, visit our Stress Solutions, LLC website at www.EFT-MD.com.

Important Note: This and all other postings to this blog along with any statement or statements made in any podcast, audio, or video associated with this site are for informational purposes only. This and all other posts and statements in any audio or video recording associated with this blog, Stress Solutions, LLC, or Stephen Carter are not intended to diagnose, treat, or otherwise recommend any treatment for any medical or psychological condition. Anyone using any of the information contained in this or any other posting, audio or video recording linked to this website or associated in any way with this website does so at his or her own risk. You are urged to seek competent medical consultations with appropriate licensed medical professionals for any and all medical, psychological, or physical conditions.

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