The term “burnout” refers to a condition that results from ongoing stress, be it mental, emotional or physical. It is commonly seen in those who are unable or reluctant to access support through friends, family or professional care resources. At AHCS, this is a topic that is very near and dear to our hearts. As a nurse staffing agency, we are huge advocates for all things care and respite resources. Without access to these essential services, burnout is inevitable and can have devastating consequences if not treated.

What Does Burnout Look Like?

Burnout can affect the mind and body in numerous ways, including wreaking havoc on emotional wellbeing and even causing physical illness. And unfortunately, in many cases, it reaches a detrimental point before it is even addressed. This is usually because the initial signs can be easy to ignore. These include:

  • Extreme mental, physical, and emotional fatigue
  • Isolation
  • Cynicism
  • Lack of patience
  • Dissociation
  • Lethargy
  • Deprioritizing basic needs like personal hygiene and proper nutrition
  • Losing interest in self-care activities
  • Feelings of anger and resentment

Becoming more aware and in tune with your body and mind can help you to recognize symptoms of burnout and seek support when you need it. This might look like reaching out to a close friend for emotional support, talking to a therapist or accessing professional support resources, if your burnout is a product of being the primary caregiver for a loved one.

We at AHCS are very familiar with primary caregiver burnout, and have endless respect and sympathy for individuals with this responsibility. But the most important thing to keep in mind – no matter how much your care is fueled by love – is that you cannot keep running on an empty tank, and you cannot care for others if you are not well. This is why it’s important to familiarize yourself with the signs of burnout before it causes damage to your health and wellbeing.

There Is No Shame in Asking for Respite

Sometimes, a primary caregiver will delay the process of seeking additional support due to feelings of guilt and shame. But this is one of the kindest things you can do for yourself and your loved one. The job of a primary caregiver is demanding, and when that constant care starts to take precedence over everything else in your life – including your own health – you do not need to feel guilty for seeking support. As you recharge and regain your health and wellbeing, your capacity to provide loving care will be renewed and this can have a positive impact on feelings of guilt. Feelings of resentment can be extremely damaging psychologically, and it’s important to take them seriously and address them when they come up.

So let’s all make a collective effort to normalize seeking support, and recognize the beginning stages of burnout so that we can be kinder to ourselves and others. Remember, we are in this together!

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