When You Are Toast, How To Heal The Burn

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Bonnie is burnt, just like the over-toasted piece of bread that pops up from her toaster. She even looks toasted--frayed around the edges with new wrinkles forming every day.

She spends as much time as she can with your father who resides in a skilled nursing facility. As much as she can means lunch (rushing from her job) and dinner (then rushing home to cook for her family) Her evenings includes phone call updates to her siblings, sharing the same information over and over.

She's tired of worrying, feeling guilty and being late.

In caregiving, you'll use a lot of energy, because of runs to the facility or the hands-on care you provide at home. The physical tasks of caregiving can be tiring, but the experience's emotional toll will burn you to a crisp. Finding patience, managing the losses, feeling the grief, trying to work through your resentments will wear on you.

How do you know if you are burnt? You may be toast if you:

1. Feel your short fuse getting shorter by the moment. Everything seems to set you off--you're just mad all the time.

2. You can't get enough sleep. Even if you let yourself sleep in on Sunday mornings, you don't wake rested.

3. You feel yourself dragging to the skilled nursing facility, around the house, at work. It's all just a drag.

4. Your house looks like the last hour of a garage sale. Piles of laundry, paperwork and take-out containers sit on every inch of your kitchen counter.

5. You don't spend time with those who are important to you. It seems like too much work to get together with family and friends. So you don't.

6. Someone calls you Niagara Falls because of how quickly the water works start for you. You seem to be constantly on the verge of tears.


What's the cure for burn-out? Some suggestions:

1. Focus on your reality. You can't do it all. You aren't meant to do it all. Determine what you can do during a day while still having some down time. Then, do just that. Stay flexible with your priorities.

2. Create a ritual during your day that connects you to your purpose--meditate, pray, enjoy quiet time in nature.

3. Start a blog to post updates for family and friends, which minimizes the repetitive phone calls. 

4. Take time away from your responsibilities during the week. A break from the responsibilities allows you to breath without worrying about what's breathing down your neck.

5. Plan for longer breaks, like a weekend away, so you can catch up on doing as little as possible. Taking time off during caregiving requires planning and creative solutions.

We believe we can run on empty. The truth is, when we're empty, we're at our worst. Time off, even from our personal commitments so important to us like caregiving, give us a chance to fill up again. When we're full, we operate much smoother.

How do you cure your burn-out? Please share in our comments section, below.