A = AWARENESS Self Care – Part 2

Written by Jodee Kulp

The demands of special needs care giving can be unrelenting and can take a toll on the caregiver’s physical and emotional health over time. Therefore, it is important for caregivers to prioritize their own self-care and seek support from others to prevent burnout.

Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that can occur when an individual is responsible for the ongoing care of a loved one or dependent who has significant health or care needs.

Caregiver burnout can develop gradually over time and can be caused by a range of factors, including the demands of caregiving, lack of support or resources, and the emotional toll of providing care for a loved one. Symptoms of caregiver burnout can include fatigue, depression, anxiety, irritability, social withdrawal, and reduced ability to concentrate or complete tasks.

Below we begin to build awareness of what fatigue symptoms can manifest and affect the quality of your and your family’s life.

Everyone experiences fatigue differently, and that the physical and mental health characteristics associated with fatigue will vary from person to person. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment.

Print this page out – ponder it – write some notes – look at your results – think about what may be affecting you and your life. Then tomorrow let’s get back together with ideas to make a difference in the quality of your life. It’s important for caregivers to recognize the signs of burnout and to seek support and resources to help manage their caregiving responsibilities and maintain their own well-being.

What mental health characteristics are common with caregiver fatigue?

Mental Health CharacteristicsDescription
Mood changesFatigue can lead to mood swings, irritability, and depression.
AnxietyFatigue can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and increase worry.
Cognitive difficultiesFatigue can cause difficulties with memory, concentration, and decision-making.
Reduced motivationFatigue can lead to reduced motivation and difficulty initiating tasks.
Social withdrawalFatigue can cause individuals to avoid social situations and activities they previously enjoyed.
Sleep disturbancesFatigue can cause disruptions in sleep patterns, such as insomnia or oversleeping.
Lack of enjoymentFatigue can lead to a lack of pleasure or interest in activities that were previously enjoyable.
Decreased self-esteemFatigue can impact an individual’s sense of self-worth and confidence.
Poor stress toleranceFatigue can make it more difficult to cope with stress and can increase feelings of overwhelm.
Increased risk of mental health disordersChronic fatigue can increase an individual’s risk of developing mental health disorders, such as anxiety or depression.
Decreased productivityFatigue can cause difficulty with completing tasks and reduced work productivity.
Brain fogFatigue can lead to a feeling of mental cloudiness, also known as “brain fog.”
Decreased motivation for self-careFatigue can make it more difficult to engage in self-care activities such as exercise, healthy eating, and personal hygiene.
Negative self-talkFatigue can increase negative self-talk and critical self-judgment.
Social isolationFatigue can lead to social withdrawal and feelings of isolation.
Reduced ability to cope with challengesFatigue can decrease an individual’s ability to cope with challenges and setbacks.
Increased use of substancesFatigue can lead to an increased use of substances such as caffeine or alcohol in an attempt to combat fatigue.
Decreased sexual functioningFatigue can lead to a decrease in sexual desire and performance.
2023 Jodee Kulp

What physical symptoms should I watch out for as a caregiver?

Physical Symptoms of FatigueDescription
Low energyFeeling tired, sluggish, or lethargic
HeadachesPain or discomfort in the head
Muscle weaknessDifficulty with physical tasks, feeling weak or fatigued in the muscles
Digestive problemsIssues with digestion such as bloating, nausea, or constipation
InsomniaDifficulty falling or staying asleep
Appetite changesChanges in appetite, either decreased or increased
Decreased immunityIncreased susceptibility to infections or illnesses
DizzinessFeeling lightheaded or unsteady
TremorsInvoluntary shaking or trembling of the body
Vision changesChanges in vision such as blurriness or sensitivity to light
Increased painIncreased discomfort or pain, especially in areas affected by chronic pain conditions
Respiratory problemsDifficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Increased heart rateAn abnormally fast heart rate
Weak immune systemA weakened ability to fight off infections and illnesses
Weight gain or lossChanges in weight, either gain or loss
Skin problemsSkin issues such as dryness, itchiness, or irritation
Chronic painOngoing pain that lasts for an extended period of time
Reduced coordinationDifficulty with fine motor skills or balance
Increased sensitivity to light and soundHeightened sensitivity to light and sound
Gastrointestinal problemsDigestive issues such as bloating, cramps, or acid reflux
Increased thirstA higher than usual need for hydration
Increased or decreased appetiteChanges in appetite, either increased or decreased
Reduced sex driveDecreased libido or sexual desire
Reduced balanceDifficulty with balance or coordination
Changes in body temperatureChanges in body temperature such as feeling excessively hot or cold
Changes in sweatingChanges in sweating patterns, either excessive or reduced
Changes in menstrual cycleChanges in menstrual flow or irregular periods
Dry mouth or throatDryness in the mouth or throat
Increased or decreased urinationChanges in urination patterns, either increased or decreased
Increased susceptibility to illnessHigher likelihood of contracting infections or illnesses
Jodee Kulp 2023

It’s important to note that not everyone with fatigue will experience all of these symptoms, and that some symptoms may be caused by underlying medical conditions. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment.

Looking for more ways to support children with special needs? Join Red Shoes Rock to help support those affected by prenatal alcohol exposure.

Check out all out BLOG articles – we will begin posting more i C.A.R.E. ideas to help you and your family.

Published by jodeekulp

Jodee Kulp, is an award-winning author, producer and advocate who works tirelessly to serve children and families of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Her behavioral work in understanding canine fear and applying it to helping adults gain life skills is momumental and parallels our work with EAGALA Equine Therapy. It will be exciting to watch this progress. - Chris Troutt, Papillion Center Current Projects include: Pearlz Work Embraced Movement PraiseMoves LIFT (Laughter in Fitness Training) LiveAbilities Red Shoes Rock. Stop FASD PawZup Life Stories

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