13 Signs You’re on the Verge of Burnout

Where's the Fire Extinguisher, I'm Burning Out!

13 Signs You’re on the Verge of Burnout

I can’t say that I am afraid of flying, but I do pay close attention when flight attendants talk about emergency procedures and walk us through the use of oxygen masks and emergency exits. At first I was puzzled when they instructed flyers travelling with children to put masks on themselves before their children. Our lives revolve around our kids; we would do anything for them, so why wouldn’t we instinctively put masks on our kids first?

I soon realized that their instructions made perfect sense - I can’t help my children if I am incapacitated. I have to ensure that I am healthy and alive so that I can take care of them properly. There’s a larger lesson here.

We as parents, and especially those who also care for aged parents or grandparents, can’t care for others if we don’t first take care of ourselves. I am useless as a mom if I am so completely exhausted that I cannot prepare a proper meal or keep the house in a reasonable state of cleanliness. Moreover, if I can barely scrape together enough energy to care for my kids, how I will take care of my aging parents too if I am part of the “Sandwich Generation”)? The simple answer is, you can’t. You must first take care of yourself in order to be an effective caregiver.

You are reaching the point of burnout if you notice the following signs:

  • frequent crying
  • occurrence of panic attacks
  • less energy than normal
  • constant feelings of fatigue even after a nap or long sleep
  • trouble relaxing
  • feeling overwhelmed and unable to manage daily routine
  • impatient
  • irritable - especially with the one you are caring for
  • feelings that your life being taken away from you
  • changes in eating patterns
  • withdrawal from social contact
  • decreased pleasure in previously enjoyable activities
  • feeling depressed 


If you are reaching the point of burnout, it’s not too late - but you must take some steps to start taking care of yourself:

  • take advantage of support groups – not only will you benefit from the social interaction, but you will also learn from the advice of others
  • exercise regularly – a daily walk will do wonders
  • maintain a healthy diet - sadly, the comfort of fast food and unhealthy snacks last for mere minutes - take time for yourself everyday (15 minutes to sit and relax or read a book)
  • continue with the activities that you enjoy and that bring satisfaction to your days
  • talk to your family about how you are feeling and ask them for help (I know this is a hard one because it can be painful for me to ask for help, but when you do, follow through)
  • take advantage of the help that is out there – contact your local Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) or Regional Health Authority (RHA) and ask them if your loved one is eligible for any home care
  • Don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself – you deserve it and you are worth it. Of course, your aging parent will be better off with a healthier you too!

 RELATED:  Sleeping Over at the Hospital: A Caregiver’s Guide

After getting her four young children fed, bathed, and clothed, Christine spends her remaining hours running a national website (www.nursinghomeratings.ca) and a Toronto-based consulting business, Aging Solutions, that offers older adults strategies to stay in their own home safely. She also loves to bake (especially gluten-free), work out, and get late-night cuddles from her kids.