The role of “caregiver” isn’t always one you sign up for. Stepping into this role can be overwhelming, demanding, and sometimes unexpected.
It’s natural to have mixed emotions about your responsibility, and know you are not alone with these thoughts. So, how you can be aware of, and counteract the effects of caregiver fatigue? Frame therapist Zeahlot Lopez answers those questions below, with an important reminder on the power and value of self care.
Caregiver fatigue is when we feel overwhelmed and bombarded by what's going when taking care of another person. Some telltale signs that you have caregiver fatigue are:
- You may feel tired within your body and your mind.
- You might start to feel that the person is overwhelming or impacting your life in different ways.
- You find that most of your time is spent with them instead of others.
- You start losing your passion for other things that you had before.
- You find yourself feeling irritable or resentful towards your loved one.
- You feel like you don't spend enough time with “you”.
- Caregiver fatigue is also found in the body so you might start to feel aches and pains, your stomach or back might start hurting, you’re experiencing frequent headaches.
You need to pay close attention to what your body's telling you, what your mind is telling you, and also your environment as well.
So, does having caregiver fatigue mean that I don't care about my loved one?
Absolutely not. You can love a person dearly and still be human and feel exhausted. The reason being is because if there's something lacking within your life over time, it will come up. Freud says that unexpressed feelings and emotions will come up in uglier ways. So if you're not balancing your day, yourself, and your time accordingly while taking care of another, you won't be as replenished as you need to be in order to take care of someone else.
How might caregiver fatigue show up in your relationship with the person you’re caring for?
Feelings are a bit sneaky here. What could be coming up in that relationship includes resentment, feeling shame, feeling guilt, maybe culturally you're not able to talk to others in the family or within your community about what's going on inside so a bottled up combination of multiple feelings occur. It's important to know that you do have a community. There are others out there experiencing what you are while taking care of a loved one.
What are some mindful ways that I can deal with caregiver fatigue?
There are absolutely things that you can do to just stay balanced, and stay well within yourself and one of them actually includes getting the help that you need. Asking for help is a really tough step.
Individual therapy and/or family therapy can definitely help you connect with others you’re close to and help them to further understand what you're experiencing while you take care of another.
Other ways that you can take care is by very basic self care practices. This could be a bath, going out for a run, going for a walk in nature, or just having your favorite food. It's really important to take care of yourself.
Like the example they always give us when we're on a plane, you're supposed to put the mask on yourself first, and then your loved ones to make sure that you're available and prepared to take care of them. If we don't check in with ourselves, how can we be there for another?
Interested in exploring individual or family therapy? Let Frame get you started. Create your (free) Frame profile, answer 10 questions focused on your preferences and needs, and we will introduce you to a curated short-list of recommended therapists.