Caregiver Burnout

What is anxiety?

We are all prone to experiencing burnout in a number of areas of our lives, and it is particularly common when we are caring for others. It often occurs because we focus on caring for others while not putting effort into caring for ourselves. Often caregiver burnout results in physical and emotional exhaustion and leads us from feeling positive about caring for others to feeling unconcerned. This is sometimes referred to as compassion fatigue.

Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals are especially prone to caregiver burnout during the pandemic, and untreated it can often lead to depression, anxiety and/or substance abuse. Parents caring for chronically ill children or family members, people caring for family members or spouses with disabilities or chronic illness, and people caring for a partner with dementia are all at an increased risk for caregiver burnout.

Common symptoms of caregiver burnout include:

  • Feelings of sadness, irritability, anxiety, hopelessness and helplessness
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself or the person in your care
  • Withdrawing from social activities
  • Experiential avoidance in once pleasurable activities.
  • Changes in appetite and/or weight.
  • Difficulty sleeping, and feelings of exhaustion
  • Frequent illness

If you are experiencing these symptoms, know that many coping skills are available for helping with caregiver burnout.

Counselling and self-care are effective treatments for caregiver burnout so that you can enjoy your life again, and have compassion satisfaction.

Counselling at Westwood includes the use of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a type of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for caregiver burnout. In ACT for caregiver burnout we focus on:

  • Contacting the present moment, so that we don’t neglect our own needs.
  • Creating distance between ourselves and our difficult thoughts about caregiving.
  • Accepting our emotions as real yet passing experiences.
  • Connecting with our values, as we often ignore them when we feel distressed.
  • Engaging in pleasurable activities including self-care such as healthy eating, exercise, sleep hygiene, socializing, and taking breaks.
  • Noticing what we are doing, thinking, and feeling at any given moment.