Prevent Yourself from Caregiver Burnout
Posted 8/22/2016 by UHBlog
Are you someone who takes care of others to the exclusion of yourself? If so, you may be headed toward caregiver burnout.
Known as compassion fatigue, this kind of burnout leaves you feeling emotionally exhausted, says psychiatrist Francoise Adan, MD.
“Burnout looks and feels very much like depression,” she says. “Compassion fatigue is the price to pay when we care too much. We suffer for and through others. We know every professional caregiver, such as physicians, nurses, social workers and teachers, is likely to encounter this.”
Among the symptoms of caregiver burnout are:
- Emotional exhaustion
- A near constant state of being overwhelmed
- A sense of ineffectiveness
- Trouble accomplishing tasks
- Depersonalization where other people are viewed as objects instead of human beings
- Difficulty concentrating and sleeping
- Social withdrawal
- Poor judgment
- Addictive behaviors
The best way to prevent becoming burnt out is through awareness and putting your own needs first.
“I like to use the analogy of putting on the oxygen mask in an airplane,” Dr. Adan says. “Every single flight attendant goes over it. It's no coincidence they're still saying this. You can't attend to someone else's needs unless you've taken care of your own. It's easy to forget to take care of yourself or put it (self-care) on the back burner.”
Recognition is the first step in breaking the cycle of caring for and about others more than yourself. Once you're aware that what you're experiencing is caregiver burnout, then you can begin to take steps to take care of yourself.
“We put in eight, 10 or 12 hours every day at work, then we go to our next commitment,” she says. “This is a delusion to think we can do it all without ever recharging our batteries. We have to learn to not give more than we have. People forget that 'no' is a complete sentence. When you're saying no to something, that means you're saying yes to something for yourself, whether it's exercise, rest or meditation.”
To relieve the symptoms of caregiver burnout, Dr. Adan suggests using techniques such as:
“These are very powerful modalities and many of them don't cost anything,” she says “It's well documented that they help to relieve feelings of stress and burn out.”
Francoise Adan, MD is a psychiatrist and the medical director of UH Connor Integrative Health Network. You can request an appointment with Dr. Adan or any other doctor online.