Wandering Through the Wildnerness of Burnout: Elder Care Tips & Tools

Confession: I've missed a month of posting because, as the title of this edition of Tips & Tools indicates, I'm burned out—exhausted emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Nevertheless, I am energized by plans for big new changes on my site and in my business. 

As always, I welcome your feedback on the content and suggestions for future topics—and I'd love to hear from you at michelleseitzer.writer@gmail.com

Here are this month's tips and tools:

  • TIP 1: Acknowledge burnout. When you're in a state of burnout—which tends to follow an extended period of compounded grief, loss, and other difficult circumstances without adequate time to rest and recharge—you are exhausted by even the most basic tasks. You feel stuck. Apathetic. You just cannot summon the energy or desire usually have for your daily obligations and to dos, even those you enjoy. I'm finally understanding that this is where I am, and it's helping me take the next necessary step toward renewal. Struggling with a difficult caregiving circumstance? I can help.  
  • TIP 2: Take action. This is easier said than done, because when you're walking through burnout-land, you don't want to do anything else—even if it will help you. Keep your action plan simple, but find a way to get the respite you need. Make a wish list of what would help, i.e. sleep, better nutrition, time with a dear friend, a phone call with a mentor, a morning alone, etc. Commit to making at least one of those wish list items happen—ASAP. Read Respite Care to the Rescue
  • TOOL 1: Friends who "get it." You should talk to someone about your state of burnout, and while it doesn't have to be a fellow caregiver, it should be someone who understands what you're going through. Because right now, the last thing you need is someone to say, "I understand" (when you know they don't), or "It's not that bad" (when you know it is). Validation and affirmation will heal you; guilt and criticism will only add to your level of stress.
  • TOOL 2: The power of NO. Sometimes you just have to say no. No to dinner out with a friend, even if you miss seeing her. No to an extra work assignment, no to a new activity, no to a phone call with someone who drains your energy instead of replenishes it. If you're used to saying yes, take comfort in knowing that your answer will not always be no; this phase of burnout too shall pass. But you are likely to emerge from it sooner if you simplify your life.

    How did you get through a time of burnout?