Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The essential Self-Care for caregivers

There are many red flags that point to the onset of burnout and especially compassion fatigue, but caregivers must know what signs to look for and be able to detect them in their own behavior in order to act on them. Both information and self-awareness are key to preventing long-lasting emotional issues and even stress-related physical illness.

Warning Signs of Compassion Fatigue in Family Caregivers. Feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and drained, avoidance and not wanting to be around your loved one (choosing to work late, daydreaming about no longer having to care for them, etc.) A decrease in patience and tolerance. Angry outbursts that are uncharacteristic of your behaviorCynicism and hopelessness. Heightened anxiety, impaired ability to make care decisions, difficulty sleeping. Physical symptoms, such as headaches or gastrointestinal issues. Using Self-Care to Prevent Compassion Fatigue.

If you begin noticing any of the above signs, the next step is to make yourself a priority and tend to, at the very least, some of your needs. Remember that compassion fatigue is not black and white—it is a continuum. Each caregiver has different limits, and there are times throughout the caregiving journey when one’s susceptibility to stress will increase and decrease. Many will experience these warning signs from time to time.

These feelings and behaviors are undesirable but common for a demographic that is so overworked and has so few resources available. When the list above begins to describe daily life rather than fleeting behavior on a bad day, it is absolutely time to act.

While many caregivers feel that self-care is impossible, it is important to understand that if you don’t allocate this time, no one else will. As mentioned earlier, in fields where compassion fatigue is prevalent, employers take care to enact policies that help prevent physical and emotional stress from negatively impacting employees’ work, attitudes, and personal lives. It is up to family caregivers to be their own advocates and implement care plans that allow for regular breaks, self-assessments, respite time, professional and peer support, and changes in workload. Making these changes will not only help to minimize caregiver burden but also allow you to create a more positive and rewarding caregiving experience for you and your loved one. If you find yourself already experiencing these feelings and symptoms, then seek professional help and respite care immediately. 

Once you feel refreshed and regain a sense of balance and perspective, you can make some important care decisions that will help prevent future instances of compassion fatigue, such as opting for permanent placement in long-term care or fortifying your care plan with regular breaks and respite. These care decisions will help set you on the path for a different kind of caregiving experience—one that is defined by compassion satisfaction, not fatigue.

Being proactive is one of the best ways to combat compassion fatigue or at least prevent it from getting out of hand. We are on this bumpy road together, you are not alone!

Be Prepared, Be Informed, Be Empowered.
I send you beams of virtual good vibes. 

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