Caregiver burnout: What it is and how to manage stress
SINGAPORE – Caregiver burnout refers to a point where a caregiver reaches his or her threshold, leading to physical, emotional and mental exhaustion.
According to Dr Annabelle Chow, principal clinical psychologist at Annabelle Psychology, signs of burnout include the lack of energy even with sufficient rest, having trouble relaxing, and insomnia or hypersomnia, where there are recurring episodes of excessive daytime sleepiness or prolonged nighttime sleep. Another sign is when there is diminished interest in activities that one used to enjoy.
One is experiencing burnout when these signs persist nearly every day for two weeks or more. People who are burnt out tend to be more irritable and are susceptible to developing a mental health condition.
To take care of one’s mental health, Dr Chow has the following tips:
1. Practise self-compassion
Accept that everyone has limitations to the stress he or she can take, and give oneself the permission to rest, feel, and cry.
2. Ask for help when you need it
This is not just limited to respite care, but can also be for small things like getting help to buy groceries or taking time off to go for a walk. Small “wins” are better than holding out for a “big break”.
3. Join a caregiver support group
Having a group of caregiving friends to share stories and tips with could make a lot of difference.
4. Try out mindfulness exercises
Mindfulness is a form of meditation which focuses on being aware of what you are sensing and feeling in the moment, without judging yourself.
There are plenty of free exercises online, and these practices take only a few minutes each day.
5. Make some time for yourself
Recall the things you enjoyed doing to relax, and try to engage in these activities. If you still feel burnt out after taking time off, you should seek help from a mental health professional.
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