From Caregiver Burnout to Empowerment

From Caregiver Burnout to Empowerment

Caregiver burnout for Annie

My client *Annie had a very demanding mother.  She’d find any excuse she could to get Annie to come help her.  Then when Annie would go fix her latest problem, she’d complain about how she had no one to help her.  Her mom also constantly complained about how lonely she was, and she’d regularly accuse my client of not spending enough time with her.   While she could have asked the people she lived with to help, her mom wouldn’t ask them to help her.  It seemed the only person she wanted help from was her daughter, and Annie felt like she could never please her mom.

Annie was tired of being sucked into her mom’s drama.    caregiver burnoutYet she felt obligated, because she felt like she was the only one capable of helping her.  But my client was exhausted.  She was suffering from serious caregiver burnout.  In addition to being the sole breadwinner of her family, she was the caregiver for her husband with Lewy Body Disease.  Between all the demands of work and those of her family, she had no bandwidth left to take care of her own needs.

When we Ignore Our Caregiver Burnout

So many caretakers can easily get caught in the pattern of putting other’s needs before our own.  We often feel as if nobody else can or will help, or that the person we are caring for won’t be able to survive without us.   But if we don’t draw healthy boundaries or share the burden of care, we end up feeling used up, exhausted, burned out and sick.  This pattern is not sustainable!

Forty to seventy percent of caregivers suffer from depression, anxiety and irritability!   They also suffer from other stress-related disorders such as high blood pressure, diabetes and a compromised immune system.  Caregivers have double the risk of chronic diseases, and a 63% higher risk of dying from all the stress.

Addressing Caregiver Burnout

Luckily, Annie knew that her current caretaking burden wasn’t sustainable, and that she needed to make a change.   So, she sought my help.

We had to release barriers to help her feel comfortable with prioritizing herself.  She had to let go of her belief that she was the only one capable of helping her mom, and that it was her duty to make her mom happy.  Then we had to release her frustration and bitterness about being stuck with these responsibilities, so that she could feel empowered to get the support she needed.

Often times if we are used to chronic work and stress, our bodies may not feel safe relaxing, so we had to release barriers to make it safe for her to relax.

Setting Healthy Boundaries

set healthy boundariesThen we started releasing barriers to being able to form healthy boundaries.  She had to figure out what she no longer was willing to accept.  Often when we start to set boundaries, the person we’d been helping gets more demanding or abusive.  In Annie’s case, she had to gently and firmly remind her mom of what she was willing and not willing to tolerate, and to not let mom trigger her into a fight or submission.  This takes courage, patience and persistence.   We released barriers to get her there.

The next week, she reported being satisfied with her relationship with her mom, and that she was able to set healthy boundaries.   She no longer felt like the burden of responsibility was exclusively on her to make her mom happy.  And in fact she began to challenge her mom to figure out how she could work on her own issues without depending exclusively on Annie to fill them!   She also sought the support of her mom’s minister to brainstorm about how others could begin to shoulder some of the responsibility.   Now Annie has more time to take care of herself!

Are feeling burned out and exhausted from caregiving?  What if you could change that? practicing self care If you believe that you are the only person that can help, not only will you age faster from the stress, but you make yourself more vulnerable to disease.  This situation isn’t sustainable!   Look for caregiving support groups in your area, and make sure you are using of all the resources out there to support you.   If this has been a chronic problem for you, then releasing subconscious barriers are likely to help!   You are just as important as the people you are caring for!  And you will be able to be much more emotionally present and supportive if you are getting your own needs met!

Curious to know whether I can help you?   Contact me here to schedule your complimentary consultation!


*Clients’ name was changed to protect her identity.


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