Caregiver Stress and Burnout

Caregiver

While caring for a loved one can be very rewarding, it also involves many stressors. And since caregiving is often a long-term challenge, the emotional impact can snowball over time. You may face years or even decades of caregiving responsibilities. It can be particularly disheartening when there’s no hope that your family member will get better or if, despite your best efforts, their condition is gradually deteriorating.

If the stress of caregiving is left unchecked, it can take a toll on your health, relationships, and state of mind—eventually leading to burnout, a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion. And when you get to that point, both you and the person you’re caring for suffer.

That’s why taking care of yourself isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Cultivating your own emotional and physical well-being is just as important as making sure your family member gets to their doctor’s appointment or takes their medication on time.

Learning to recognize the signs of caregiver stress and burnout is important, so you can take immediate action to prevent things from becoming worse and start improving the situation for both you and the person you’re caring for.

Caregiver

Feeling powerless is the number one contributor to burnout and depression. And it’s an easy trap to fall into as a caregiver, especially if you feel stuck in a role you didn’t expect or helpless to change things for the better. But no matter the situation, you aren’t powerless. This is especially true when it comes to your state of mind. You can’t always get the extra time, money, or physical assistance you’d like, but you can always get more happiness and hope.

Practice acceptance. Try to avoid the emotional trap of feeling sorry for yourself or searching for someone to blame.

Embrace your caregiving choice. Acknowledge that, despite any resentments or burdens you feel, you have made a conscious choice to provide care.

Look for the silver lining. Think about the ways caregiving has made you stronger or how it’s brought you closer to the person you’re taking care of or to other family members.

Don’t let caregiving take over your life. Invest in things that give you meaning and purpose whether it’s your family, church, a favorite hobby, or your career.

Focus on the things you can control. Rather than stressing out over things you can’t control, focus on how you choose to react to problems.

Celebrate the small victories. If you start to feel discouraged, remind yourself that all your efforts matter.

Share your feelings. The simple act of expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic.

Prioritize activities that bring you enjoyment. Make regular time for hobbies that bring you happiness, whether it’s reading, working in the garden, tinkering in your workshop, knitting, playing with the dogs, or watching the game.

Make yourself laugh. Laughter is an excellent antidote to stress—and a little goes a long way. Whenever you can, try to find the humor in everyday situations.

Get out of the house. Seek out friends, family, and respite care providers to step in with caregiving so you can have some time away from the home.

Maintain your personal relationships. Don’t let your friendships get lost in the shuffle of caregiving.

From Caregiver Stress and Burnout

Caring

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When Christmas is difficult…

Lonely Christmas

No matter where you find yourself in the world during the month of December, there’s never any escaping Christmas expectations. Seasonally, this is supposed to be a time for family and loved ones – and we’re constantly reminded of how we should be celebrating, through films, adverts and songs on the radio. But for those of us facing a difficult Christmas this year, that’s the last thing we want to be reminded of…

There is a number of reasons why many people find Christmas season very difficult including death in the family, loss of a job, loss of a marriage or relationship, financial collapse, loneliness, depression, or family problems.  A study into festive despondency by psychiatric healthcare facility Florida House found that 29 per cent of people feel depressed at Christmas because it reminds them that they don’t have anyone to share it with. Meanwhile, for 69 per cent it simply makes them realise how broke they are…

Are you facing a difficult Christmas season? Are you overly stressing about what needs to be done or the upcoming family gathering?  Are you isolating yourself from all of it and everyone?

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So, if you are feeling like the only person in the world who is not filled with festive joy, how can you make it through Christmas?

  1. Keep things simple. Keep your schedule simple. Keep your commitments simple. Don’t be afraid to say “no.”
  2. Balance alone-time and time with others. Don’t isolate. Isolating will only make things worse.
  3. Talk about the issues with someone who is safe. Talk about why it’s a difficult Christmas, but don’t ruminate about it. Identify the pain and work through it.
  4. Do self-nurture. Take time to de-stress. Find gifts for yourself, pamper yourself, go for a long walk, read a book and wear your pyjamas all day if you want to.
  5. Give something back. Christmas is a great time to volunteer and there are always people who need assistance; helping out at your local Church or charity car boot sale is a great place to start.
  6. Lower your expectations. In fact, try to have no expectations. Too often we have too high of expectations, and the disappointment that follows when those expectations are not met will only add to one’s pain.
  7. Ignore the media. The schmaltzy ads and poignant songs can bring back many memories. At times this may feel overwhelming and trigger some pretty intense emotions. (This is totally OK). But when things get too much, it’s a good idea to mute those telly ads, switch off the car radio and completely disconnect from social media. And if you still need an escape, consider celebrating Christmas somewhere where you won’t be reminded so much of home or the person you miss…

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Depression in men

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Depression is an illness that affects both men and women. While men suffer from depression just as often as women, they are less likely to talk about it or ask for help.

Like women with depression, men with depression may:

  • Feel sad, hopeless, worthless or empty
  • Feel extremely tired
  • Have difficulty sleeping or sleep too much
  • Not get pleasure from activities usually enjoyed

Other behaviors in men that could be signs of depression include:

  • Escapist behavior, such as spending a lot of time at work or on sports
  • Physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive problems and pain
  • Problems with alcohol or drug use
  • Controlling, violent or abusive behavior
  • Irritability or inappropriate anger
  • Risky behavior, such as reckless driving
  • Weight increase or loss

Overeating — particularly the high-fat, low-nutrient foods people are more prone to binge eat — can lead to or worsen depression.

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Men often turn to drugs or alcohol to try to cope with their emotional symptoms. Nearly one-third of people with major depression also have an alcohol problem. Often, the depression comes first with alcohol making it worse. Alcohol is a depressant. That means any amount you drink can make you more likely to get the blues. Drinking a lot can harm your brain and lead to depression.

Bachelor

Alcohol abuse and depression are both serious problems that you shouldn’t ignore. If you think you have a problem with either, talk to your doctor. There are lots of choices when it comes to medication that treats depression, and there are drugs that lower alcohol cravings and counter the desire to drink heavily. Depression, even if it’s severe, usually improves with medications or psychological counseling (psychotherapy) or both.

Other things that may help include:

  • Spending time with other people and talking with a friend or relative about your feelings
  • Increasing your level of physical activity and exercising  regularly
  • Engaging in activities you typically enjoy, such as ball games, fishing or a hobby.
  • Breaking up large tasks into small ones, and tackling what you can as you can. Don’t try to do too many things at once
  • Delaying important decisions until you feel better. Discuss decisions with others who know you well.
  • Keeping stable daily routines. For example, eating and going to bed at the same time every day.
  • Having a balanced diet
  • Avoiding alcohol

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Have you ever battled depression?
What helped you the best in your battle?

THE END

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Just care enough and be there…

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Spotted this poster on Facebook today. So true and so well said…. It is so important to keep an eye on the nearest and dearest, talk to them about it and share our experiences…

Just a few months ago we received a note from our children’s college – a young man of their age ended his life. One of my children knew him – he was in the same year…. Then my other son, who lives at the University Hall of residence, mentioned that he decided to become Resident Assistant (RA) so he could help younger students who are struggling… They already had cases of students cutting themselves there…

There were times I just wished I could run away and hide – I was still laughing, I was still joking… Glad there were people in my life who helped me get through it, who helped me find my way…

Feeling depressed or suicidal is not a character defect, flaw or weakness. Lots of people who were experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts have no history of mental illnesses, drugs or alcohol abuse. It is just sometimes people get lost in life and can’t see another way… Listen to them carefully and help them gently to get back onto their feet and find their way…

To make a difference in someone's life, you don't have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful, or perfect. You just have to care enough and be there. Picture Quote #1

We all can make a difference in someone’s life…

THE END

 

 

Tears of a clown

From http://www.deviantart.com

Old and tired he lives alone
The world forgot the love he shown.
A tear rolls down his saddened cheek
Once strong willed now getting weak.

Another chapter in his book
What did he write? Let’s take a look!
He wrote of goodness in mankind
And peace on earth within his time.

When love was pure and innocent
In God we trust that’s what it meant.
Our flag flown high we all were proud
Sat back relaxed and watched the clouds.

I closed the book to his surprise
Not looking up he did ask why.
There’s too much good in this book
You will not get a second look.

No one will spend the time to read
They want violence, crime, sex and greed.
The thousand goods that you have done
They’re all forgotten one by one.

You have to have an evil deed
And only one is all you need!
Rename the title as to read
You’ll be remembered guaranteed.

Once a clown his smile now gone
With tears of life and face withdrawn.
I hear him speak, a quiet voice
“Don’t mankind know~~ they have a choice.”

From Our Poetry Corner


From http://dzpal.deviantart.com

“You ever have that funny friend, the class-clown type, who one day just stopped being funny around you? Did it make you think they were depressed? Because it’s far more likely that, in reality, that was the first time they were comfortable enough around you to drop the act. The ones who kill themselves, well, they’re funny right up to the end….

Here’s how it works…

1. At an early age, you start hating yourself. Often it’s because you were abused, or just grew up in a broken home, or were rejected socially, or maybe you were just weird or fat or … whatever. You’re not like the other kids, the other kids don’t seem to like you, and you can usually detect that by age 5 or so.

2. At some point, usually at a very young age, you did something that got a laugh from the room. You made a joke or fell down, and you realized for the first time that you could get a positive reaction that way. Not genuine love or affection, mind you, just a reaction – one that is a step up from hatred and a thousand steps up from invisibility. One you could control.

3. You soon learned that being funny builds a perfect, impenetrable wall around you – a buffer that keeps anyone from getting too close. The more you hate yourself, the stronger you need to make the barrier and the further you have to push people away. In other words, the better you have to be at comedy.

4. In your formative years, you wind up creating a second, false you – a clown that can go out and represent you, outside the barrier. The clown is always joking, always “on,” always drawing all of the attention in order to prevent anyone from poking away at the barrier and finding the real person behind it. The clown is the life of the party, the classroom joker, the guy up on stage – as different from the “real” you as possible. Again, the goal is to create distance. You do it because if people hate the clown, who cares? That’s not the real you. So you’re protected. But the side effect is that if people love the clown … well, you know the truth. You know how different it’d be if they met the real you…

But there’s more. The jokes that keep the crowd happy – and keep the people around you at bay – come from inside you, and are dug painfully out of your own guts. You expose and examine your own insecurities, flaws, fears – all of that stuff makes the best fuel…

Did you ever have that funny friend, the class-clown type, who one day just stopped being funny around you?… Be there when they need you, and keep being there even when they stop being funny. Every time they make a joke around you, they’re doing it because they instinctively and reflexively think that’s what they need to do to make you like them. They’re afraid that the moment the laughter stops, all that’s left is that gross, awkward kid everyone hated on the playground, the one they’ve been hiding behind bricks all their adult life. If they come to you wanting to have a conversation about their problems, don’t drop hints that you wish they’d “lighten up.” It’s really easy to hear that as “Man, what happened to the clown? I liked him better…”

From Cracked


Rest in peace, Robin. The countless moments of joy and laughter you gave to others will never be forgotten…


From http://simono1968.wordpress.com

THE END

Boys DOn’t CRY

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From Whisper

Men often feel that they need to be self-reliant and hide their own emotions. This behaviour is reinforced everyday in the stereotype of the heroic male, so often represented in popular culture. Fearless, resourceful, stoic and usually facing adversity alone, these characters tell us a lot about what is considered to be ideal male behaviour within our society.

From http://www.comicvine.com

More powerful than film characters are the roles we see our parents playing. Many men have experienced fathers who were emotionally distant, who rarely, if ever, cried or expressed affection outwardly. The way we see our parents behave becomes the unconscious template for our own behaviour.

This template is further reinforced by the upbringing of boys. From early childhood girls and boys are treated very differently, which most of the time is completely unintentional. For example when a little girl falls over, people will fuss around her crooning condolences ‘are you okay poppet?’, ‘Mummy will kiss it better’ meaning for little girls, it’s acceptable to hurt, and to show emotions and pain. However, with little boys it’s often a quick ‘You’ll be okay, you’re a big boy’ or ‘be a man’ leaving no space for emotional display.

From http://wordsondesert.wordpress.com

The four basic human emotions include:

  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Happiness
  • Fear

Of these four emotions, happiness is considered the most acceptable in society. Yet anger, fear and sadness are universally felt by everyone. These emotions serve valuable purposes and are normal responses to threat and loss.

As emotions such as fear and sadness are generally not as accepted, men might try to hide these from themselves and those around them. They feel that they should be able cope on their own.

Individuals might try to cope with ‘negative’ emotions in one or more of the following ways:

  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Working longer hours
  • Spending more time away from home
  • Consuming more alcohol
  • Behaving recklessly and/or violently

We might not always be able to identify what we’re feeling or have the words to describe our emotions. Men may feel uncomfortable talking to someone about them, leading to frustration in relationships when they cannot express their needs, fears and grief.

man

From http://darkside-of-felix.deviantart.com

Why talk about it?

The restriction of emotional expression in many men’s lives can lead to:

  • A greater sense of isolation
  • Less support being available from loved ones
  • Health issues due to carrying chronic tension in the body and other bad coping strategies
  • Relationship difficulties due to an inability to resolve emotional conflicts and/or a perceived lack of ability to be intimate
  • Psychological problems such as depression, insomnia and anxiety.


From http://www.doctorpat.org

Getting in touch

Men are often told they have to ‘get in touch with their feelings,’ but what does this really mean and how do you do it? Here are some strategies for getting to know your own feelings better:

  • Be aware of the sensations in your body. Emotion always manifests somewhere in the body. Anger might be experienced as a flush of heat in the face, sadness as a tightening of the throat, anxiety as a knot in the stomach. Take a moment to acknowledge the feeling(s) and take a few breaths to help identify these sensations and understand what they mean.
  • If you are feeling angry, ask yourself what other emotions you might be feeling? Are you really sad underneath, or afraid?
  • Learn to put words to what you are feeling. Often it helps to write down or brainstorm ideas before a conversation.
  • Identifying and expressing feelings is a learnt behaviour – and like driving a car, it only takes practice.
  • Take the risk of showing your vulnerability with people who you feel safe with. Give yourself permission to be human, it could bring you closer to others and may even bring a sense of relief.
  • Ask for help when you need it.

From Men and Emotions

Man selecting from different facial expressions, illustrating the advice "get in touch with your feelings."
From http://www.oh-i-see.com

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