Stepping Stone

A Major Stepping Stone for Caregivers to Prevent Burnout

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Psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud’s claim to fame was bringing the unconscious to consciousness. His patients reached a major stepping stone by gaining insight into themselves. They face the challenge of digging through their emotional pain and digging up past events or issues that had been repressed. Facing reality is not easy. Self-awareness helps.

     Self-awareness serves as a coping aid for getting through adverse circumstances. For family care providers and helping professionals, a major stepping stone for preventing burnout is facing reality through self-awareness, acknowledging the symptoms before they get worse.  Burnout does not just happen. There is a journey you take to get there.

     Burnout may start with acknowledging a change in your reactions while providing care for your family member, patient or client. Are you being less patient, becoming more agitated or having more difficulty sleeping than usual? Assessing by answering these types of questions is your way of consciously acknowledging whether or not you are starting or beyond starting on a journey that is not pretty….burnout.

     This major stepping stone of acknowledgement and self-awareness requires for you to be honest with yourself. Being true to yourself brings you closer to self-assistance. So assess the situation for yourself.  In assessing, you may acknowledge that assistance may be helpful to strengthen resiliency and prevent burnout. If you seek out assistance when required, it could potentially lead to more positive outcomes.

     Positive outcomes are more available if you are open to assisting yourself and making change. For instance, you may be resistant to having anybody help you in caring for your family member who has dementia. Consequently your energy is becoming depleted and you are exhausted. You are increasingly more short-tempered and impatient in your caregiving. Your blood pressure is higher. Acknowledging and assessing the changes are helpful. The major stepping stone is being open to making change and getting assistance in the caregiving. The assistance may be taking a day or two away and allowing someone else, a family member or paid help take care of your family member. You may consider a day program for relief. Consequently, by obtaining assistance the caregiving situation is more manageable and your resiliency is strengthened, preventing a burnout situation.

   Acknowledging, assessing and assisting leads to increased self-awareness, informing of risk to you and those you are helping. Bear in mind, it is not a weakness to seek out assistance when required but rather it is a strength.

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About the Author

Eleanor Silverberg

Eleanor Silverberg is the director of Jade Self Development Coaching. As a social worker, grief specialist, author and speaker, she offers services as a self-development coach for care providers of aging parents, frail relatives and the chronically ill. The objective is to assist caregivers to strengthen resiliency and prevent burnout. Eleanor provides individual and group sessions and is available for speaking engagements. She trains family members and professional in using her innovative 3-A #AcknowledgeAssessAssist self-monitoring coping tool that serves as an adaptive transformative guide particularly addressing the nondeath losses and grief that accompany adverse circumstances. The 3-A Approach she developed is featured in both her self-help books Keeping It Together and Caregiving with Strength.

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