Monday, January 2, 2012

Rust Never Sleeps ... and Neither Do You

"It's better to burn out because rust never sleeps," wailed Neil Young, back in the day. I think even Neil has changed his mind about that idea by now. Let's make a pledge to avoid burnout in 2012, shall we?

In fact, keeping yourself in reasonably good shape is one of the core principles of being a caregiver.  Put on your oxygen mask first before you help those traveling with you, as the flight attendant says. Yet burnout is a constant threat because of the time-consuming nature of the demands on you.

M. Ross Seligson, a psychologist writing in Today's Caregiver, pointed out that you might not even see the burnout coming.  It's important to listen to the feedback of people around you. They may be able to see it before you can.

Some of symptoms are classic signs of depression: 

  • Constant fatigue.
  • Loss of interest in your work.
  • Loss of interest in your hobbies.
  • Decreased work production.
  • Withdrawal from friends and associates.
  • More use of alcohol or drugs.
  • A lot more eating or a lot less eating.
  • Feelings of helplessness.
  • Feelings of hostility.
  • Too much sleep or major sleep disturbances.
To avoid burnout, put yourself on your to-do list. First, make sure you make time for something you love to do.  Other thoughts:

  • Take a quarterly respite away from home, if that's where the caregiving takes place.
  • Get involved in a support group.
  • Take your nutritional and exercise needs seriously.
  • Focus on what you have accomplished, rather than what you did not do.
  • Keep a gratitude journal.
  • Listen to uplifting music.
  • Make a list of people who should be helping you and are not. Visit them with requests.
  • Let go of the guilt. You cannot solve this problem.
  • Be firm in what you can commit to, and don't establish a pattern of breaking your own boundaries.
  • Pray and meditate. 
This is a marathon, not a sprint. So keep yourself in the kind of training schedule that allows you to sustain energy.


1 comment:

Susan DiMickele said...

Thanks for your raw insight Karen.

I look forward to connecting in early 2012. Let's do lunch!