Are you spreading yourself too thin?
Whether you’re a parent, a nurse, a family caregiver, or just a really nice person, it is often easy to neglect your own needs when taking care of others.
“With so many people managing multiple roles and caring for both children and elderly individuals in their family, it’s not surprising that we are seeing a higher incidence of caregiver burnout,” says Dr. Elizabeth Rutha, clinical psychologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “This occurs when caregivers are consumed with caring for the needs of others and neglect their own physical, emotional and spiritual needs.”
According to Dr. Rutha, neglecting your own needs can lead to chronic stress, which can cause a number of negative physical and psychological changes. Headaches, irregular menstruation, alcohol or drug abuse, anxiety, depression, and social withdrawal are just a few potential side effects.
While it may seem impossible to find time for yourself in your busy schedule, Dr. Rutha says it’s important to seek support and prioritize time for just you each day.
Dr. Rutha recommends these six tips to help control and combat chronic stress:
- Prioritize regular physical activity
- Meditate or pray daily.
- Seek social support from friends and family.
- Eat regular, healthy meals.
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule.
- Give yourself permission to feel tired. It’s okay to take a break.
Whether you follow all or just one of these tips, practicing some self-care can make a dramatic difference.
“Most individuals seeking help from a mental health provider have symptoms that have been exacerbated by stress,” says Dr. Rutha.
By making time for yourself, you can stay on top of chronic stress, reduce caregiver burnout, and focus on what is most important to you.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.