30 Sep Caregiver Burnout
I’m tired. Is that okay to say?
The Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis was a blessing. It helped to pinpoint Sahleah’s needs
and helped me to focus my energy on interventions to support her emotionally and socially.
Focus is what I did. Full throttle!
Two physicians, one counselor, equine therapy and music lessons added to typical teen needs,
like friendship disagreements, homework and social pressure, it became overwhelming.
I was already on the path to burnout prior to Sahleah’s diagnosis while trying to balance
climbing the corporate ladder, pouring into my daughter and carving out some personal time for
Balancing life’s tasks comes with the job description for womanhood and motherhood, but it
wasn’t until I experienced caregiver burnout that I gave myself permission to put me first.
Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion that may be
accompanied by a change in attitude — from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned.
Burnout can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need, or if they try to do more than
they are able — either physically or financially, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Symptoms can include:
– Guilty about spending time on yourself
Here are three things that I incorporated into my life to overcome caregiver burnout.
1. Get Help.
My friends and family were extremely supportive, but I didn’t want to overwhelm them with the
many highs and lows of my journey. I didn’t want every conversation to be centered around my
caregiving experience, but I needed an outlet. A therapist provided me with a safe place to
express myself and organize my thoughts and actions. The American Psychological Association
has a database where you can locate a therapist in your area.
Ask for help or outsource, when possible. My parents and my husband have truly been great with
stepping in to take Sahleah to appointments or just give me a break. There are also professional
respite services that can help with caregiving. The Arch National Respite Network and Resource
Center can connect you to providers and programs in your area.
3. Daily “Me Time”.
There are 1,440 minutes in each day. I dedicate 10 of those minutes each day to me. I used this
time to meditate- simply clear my brain and focus on my needs. If I am permitted more time, I’ll
incorporate some form of exercise.
Daily introspection has helped me understand what my needs are on a daily basis. Being the best
version of myself at home, as a mother and a wife, and at work starts with self care.