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The ALS Association Evergreen Chapter

 

Coping With Burnout

caregiver burnout

Being a caregiver of someone with ALS is a very important role. It usually involves a number of tasks that can be very time consuming, and can require a great deal of effort. If we do not learn to recognize that certain tasks and expectations can take their toll on us, regardless of what role(s) we play in life, we may find ourselves headed down the path of burnout. Burnout can be defined as exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation, usually as a result of prolonged stress. Burnout may also be as subtle as simply no longer feeling "connected" to what it is we are doing. This can apply to a number of situations, such as the workplace, with family, or activities with a group we belong to. A key to guarding against burnout is to be willing to take a close look at our lives, in order to become more conscious of our thoughts and behaviors. Some practical questions to ask ourselves are, "What causes burnout?", "How do I know if I am burning out?" and "What can I do to prevent burnout?". We will attempt to answer these three very important questions...

Common Causes of Burnout

Perfectionism: 
A perfectionist continually focuses on what needs to be improved, rather than what has been accomplished. When this becomes our focus, we may never feel that we have succeeded at anything.
 
Never-ending tasks:
Never-ending tasks describe work that appears to lack both a beginning and end. This can lead us to feel as if we have no closure, and therefore have not completed anything.
 
Work overload:
Work overload is when we have more work to do than we can complete in a given amount of time. When we operate this way, we set ourselves up for failure.

Impossible tasks:
Impossible tasks suggest that we are physically unable to do something we may feel we should be able to do. If we believe that we should be able to do something that we cannot do, we automatically feel like we have failed. It is a no-win situation.

Multiple roles:
Many of us play a number of important roles in our lives, such as wife/husband, mother/father, caregiver, and breadwinner. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when we are trying to play multiple roles in our lives.

Self-sacrifice:
Self-sacrifice occurs when we agree to take on certain tasks despite our true desire to complete them. When we continually agree to things that we would rather not do, we inevitably become resentful.

Unspoken feelings:
Any emotion that is unexpressed creates "blocks" in our ability to complete tasks and to function in relationships. If we do not speak about how we are truly feeling in a situation, those emotions surface in other, unproductive ways such as being chronically late, frequently forgetting things, or reacting in ways that are inappropriate to the situation. 


Common Symptoms of Burnout

It is important to remember that we are not alone in our experiences with burnout. At some point in time, it is likely that most of us will experience one or more of the following symptoms:
 
"Negative" emotions:
"Negative" emotions are the feelings that are often the least comfortable to feel.  One symptom of burnout is consistent "negative" feelings such as anger, anxiety, dissatisfaction and guilt.

Interpersonal problems:
We might experience conflict with others in the form of emotional outbursts, overreacting, hostility and withdrawal.

Health Problems:
Some common health problems associated with burnout are frequent insomnia, fatigue, headaches, backaches, lethargy and high blood pressure.

Poor performance:
We may become less productive due to boredom, lack of enthusiasm, feelings of fear or an inability to concentrate.

Substance abuse:
Another symptom of burnout is a marked increase in the consumption of alcohol and/or other drugs, cigarette smoking, caffeine and food.

Workaholism: 
We might be inclined to work more hours due to feelings of inadequacy, believing that the more we work, the better we will feel.

Depression:
Depression is the suppression of emotions. We may be depressed if we notice an overall feeling of hopelessness and meaninglessness. 

Loss of self-esteem:
Simply stated, the loss of self-esteem equals a decrease in self-confidence.


Solutions in Dealing with Burnout

Once we become more aware of why we experience burnout, and the various ways burnout manifests itself, we can begin to focus on ways to guard against it. It is time to develop a plan of action!

Take care of yourself: 

  • Regularly feed your body nutritious foods
  • Get sufficient rest
  • Exercise routinely
  • Pay attention to your body's signals of stress 

Practice stress-reducing strategies: 

  • Breathing exercises
  • Yoga
  • Progressive relaxation techniques
  • Massage
  • Meditation
  • Tai chi 

Develop a strong support system: 

  • Surround yourself with friends/family by whom you feel supported.
  • Attend a support group where you can share your concerns & feelings.
  • Create a support /discussion group at work where you can share your concerns, while being willing to talk about your part in the problem and the solution.
  • Utilize your company's Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to receive support/counseling or referrals for services that can assist you.
  • See a counselor or therapist if you are in need of more extensive mental health support. 

Create a fulfilling life: 

  • Make conscious decisions about how you want to spend your time.
  • Say "yes" to what you want to say "yes" to, and say "no" to what you want to say "no" to.
  • Acknowledge your priorities and actively build your life around them. 

The key to avoiding burnout is to continually seek balance in our lives. The more informed we are about our own issues with burnout, the better armed we will be to take care of ourselves. Consequently, the better job we do of taking care of our own needs, the more we can be physically, mentally, and emotionally available to those around us.

SUPPORT RESOURCES

 

Aging and Long Term Care
State Agency for connecting to social services
Evalyn Adams
1222 N Post
Spokane, WA 99201
509-458-2509

Aging and Long-Term Care of Southeast Washington
State Agency for connecting to social services and they have an ALS case manager
Betty J. Meilander
Case Manager
106 S. 6th Ave.
Yakima, WA 98902
509-469-0500

Crisis Clinic
1515 Dexter Ave N Ste 300
Seattle, WA 98109
206-461-3210
http://www.crisisclinic.org/
24-Hour Crisis Line 206-461-3222 1-866-4CRISIS
Community Information Line 206-461-3200 1-800-621-4636

Eastside Adult Day Services
3707 Providence Pt. Drive SE
Issaquah, WA 98029
425-837-3967

GriefWorks
Adult, teen and child grief counseling
P.O. Box 912
Auburn, WA 98071-0912
253-333-9420

Olympic Area Agency on Aging
The Family Caregivers Support Program
2700 Simpson Ave, Suite 205
Aberdeen,WA 98520
360-249-5154

Shanti c/o Multifaith Works
Volunteer Companion Program
Robert Lux
1801 12th Ave Ste A
Seattle,WA 98122
206-324-1520 x227

Silverdale Community Center
Family Caregiver Support Program
9729 Silverdale Way NW
Silverdale, WA 98383-9445
360-337-5743

The Neurological Center
Patient education and support for neurological conditions
Carole Fingerson
Executive Director
712 Swift Blvd., Suite 1
Richland,. WA 99352
509-943-8455

Veterans Administration Medical Center
Tara Stablein, MSW
1660 S. Columbian Way
Seattle WA 98108
206-277-6696

Virginia Mason Medical Center
Social Services
Sally Stewart MSW
206-625-7373 x64948

Wellness House
Support center
210 S 11th Ave Suite #40
Yakima, WA 98902-3293
509-575-6686

LOCAL SUPPORT GROUPS 

Alaska Conference Call Support Group

Second Wednesday 3 pm AK time. 
Please contact Oliver for Alaska and North Sound: 888-943-3024
Link to the Conference Line

Bellingham Support Group
St. Luke's Community Health
Education Center

Second Thursday  12:00 noon 1:30 pm 
3333 Squalicum Way 
Bellingham, WA
360-733-5222  for more information
 
Bellevue Caregivers Support Group
Bellevue College

Second Saturday 9:30 am 11:30 am
3000 Landerholm Circle SE Rm D106
  
Edmonds Support Group  
Swedish/Edmonds Campus (formerly Stevens Hospital)

Second Monday 10 – 11:30 am
Cafeteria East Room, 
Swedish/Edmonds Campus
21601 76th Ave. W 
Edmonds, WA 98026
For more info, call 360-733-5222

 
Kent Support Group 
Home of Carl & Merilyn Moore

Second Sunday 3 – 5 pm  
13209 SE 236th Place
Kent, WA 98042
253-631-7986 for info/directions

 
Post Falls PALS & Family Support Group 
*Garden Plaza

Second Tuesday 5:00 –7:30pm
545 N Garden Plaza Court
Post Falls, ID
877-201-3610 for info
 
Redmond Support Group
Meets the fourth Monday of every month from 7-8:30pm.
UPDATE: July Meeting Location - TBA Please contact Oliver at (360) 733-5222 or oliver@alsa-ec.orgor more info.
Seattle Support Group
Oct. 15th & Nov. 19th: 
Virginia Mason Neuroscience Institute Loby
1207 Terry Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101

December 17th:
Bailey Boushay House
2720 East Madison Street
Seattle, WA 98112

Third Monday 11:30am
12 E Olive Ave
Spokane, WA

Silverdale Support Group
(formerly Peninsula Support Group)
*Silverdale United Methodist Church Library 

First Thursday 3 – 5 pm
9982 Silverdale Way
Silverdale, WA 98383
Entrance faces Ridgetop Blvd NW near the Office

Contact Caryn at
carynw@alsa-ec.org

 

 

 

 

NEW!

Spokane Caregivers Coffee Hour 
Perkins Restaurant & Bakery

Third Monday 11:30am
12 E Olive Ave
Spokane, WA

Contact NaDean at nadeanw@alsa-ec.org
or 877-201-3610

 

Seattle Support Group
Oct. 15th & Nov. 19th: 
Virginia Mason Neuroscience Institute Loby
1207 Terry Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101

December 17th:
Bailey Boushay House
2720 East Madison Street
Seattle, WA 98112

Third Monday 11:30am
12 E Olive Ave
Spokane, WA

Silverdale Support Group
(formerly Peninsula Support Group)
*Silverdale United Methodist Church Library

First Thursday 3 – 5 pm
9982 Silverdale Way
Silverdale, WA 98383
Entrance faces Ridgetop Blvd NW near the Office

Contact Caryn at
carynw@alsa-ec.org


 

 

 

NEW!

  
Tacoma Support Group
Absolute Mobility Center 

3rd Tuesday of the Month from 3 – 5pm
6053 Tacoma Mall Boulevard
Tacoma, WA 98409
For more info: 253-254-8909

 

Tri-Cities and SE Washington PALS 
and Family Support Gathering
 
Neurological Resource Center

Open to PALS and their family members/friends - providing current info about ALS and treatment options

Fourth Wed. 6 – 7:30 pm
560 Gage Blvd #106 Richland, WA 99352.
P866-236-7442

Yakima Caregivers 
Home of Shary Hanses

Third Saturday 10 am Noon
607 Bellevue Place
509-965-1856

Yakima Support Group
Wellness House
 

First Saturday  10 – 11:30 am
210 S.11th Ave.
866-236-7442
 

Note: 
No Tri-Cities
Support Group in
Nov. & Dec.

Meetings will resume January 2015. See you then! 

Online Chatroom Support Group for PALS 
Second Wednesday
2 - 3 pm Pacific Time ( 1– 2 pm AK Time, 3-4 Mountain Time)
Link  (go to WA support in the Room Menu)

 


 

 

 

 



 
 
 

 



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