Recently I was reading an article by Pamela Gayle White called How to Care for Others (Without Exploding into a Thousand Bits). You can read it here: https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/burnout/. The title alone caught both my eye and my heart. At some time in life, most of us fall into the category of “care-giver.” Whether it is through parenting our children, caring for aging loved ones, or within our chosen career path, we have felt like we might explode into a thousand bits during our times of care.
A document out of UCLA has been the helpful tool for me. You can access it here: http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/qf/burnout_qt/3stages.pdf. It breaks the 3 phases of burnout down into bite-size pieces to digest. Take a look below and note if there are any of these signals where you have experienced any 2 or more.
- Stress Arousal – persistent anxiety or irritability, heart palpitations, forgetfulness, inability to focus, periods of high blood pressure, insomnia, headaches or grinding your teeth. (Experiencing any 2 can put you at Stage 1).
- Energy Conservation – Late for work, procrastinating, apathy, needing three-day weekends, social withdrawal, cynical or resentful attitudes, increased caffeine or alcohol use, or decreased sexual desire. (Remember any 2 of these and you could be at Stage 2 of Burnout)
- Exhaustion – Chronic experiences of depression or sadness, mental or physical fatigue, headaches, stomach issues, a desire to leave, mentally, physically or permanently. (Any 2 of these could places you at Stage 3 of Burnout)
Boy, we can get to stage 3 pretty quickly, can’t we?
This is why it is so important to: 1) Pay attention to ourselves, including our body, 2) Practice taking care of our selves, 3) Make strides to create spaces that are healing and nurturing for our own precious self and, 4) Connect with another person with whom you can share this exploration.
Choose today what you will do to care for yourself. Plan a walk, light a candle, sit with a friend. Don’t wait for a “better” time. Take care of your deep self now.