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When Burnout Happens…

by Nancy Brook on September 18, 2017

It’s no secret that those of us who take care of others get tired. And you don’t have to be a medical professional to be part of this elite group; mothers do it every day, without pay. Professional caregivers, family members and counselors. Coaches, clergy, firefighters….the list is long. And we do it, because we are called to do so. Taking care of others is part of our identity, part of our DNA. It is what we do. Until one day we are depleted. Exhausted. Worn out.

Burnout is more than a bad day, though. It is a real phenomenon and common among healthcare professionals and caregivers. It is a syndrome that can affect many aspects of your life, your thoughts, your actions and may very well have physical manifestations as well. Headaches, stomach pains, generalized anxiety or low energy are common symptoms. The feeling of being completely depleted, under appreciated or unable to sleep are not unusual either. Burnout syndrome is a state of emotional and physical exhaustion brought on by excessive and prolonged stress. The interesting part is that while you are experiencing these symptoms, you may not fully understand why.

 

So many of us recognize when we are tired or feel like we are at the end our our ropes.  Often, we don’t recognize that what we are experiencing is actually burnout. I personally experienced this earlier this year. I knew I was tired, but that was easy to explain. I knew I was juggling many responsibilities, and I knew I was struggling to keep many balls in the air. But I never considered that burnout was a possibility. Being familiar with the symptoms may help each of us more easily identify burnout when it occurs.

So, how do you deal with burnout? First, taking a honest look at the way yoUnknown-1u have been living and working. Evaluating the hours that you spend at work, reviewing your sleep schedule and your diet. Caregiving for others without taking good care of yourself is a prescription that just doesn’t work well long term. Speaking with a counselor, spending a few minutes outdoors in nature, or connecting with a friend can help. Managing self care is not easy, but it is critical. Taking care of ourselves makes a difference, although it does not always come easy to all of us. The old saying “put your oxygen mask on before putting the mask on your children” is true. Without your own health and well being, it is virtually impossible to take care of others with the love and patience we want to. As a trusted mentor once said to me, “Self care is never selfish”.

 

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Family Vacations- and Making Memories

by Nancy Brook on September 4, 2016

When we think about summer, we often think about vacation! So many of us have memories of family vacations from childhood. Whether it involved piling into the family car and driving to the beach, camping or visiting out of town relatives these trips definitely gave us stories to tell- both positive and negative. Being in close quarters for hours and days can tell you a lot about the people in your family.
Growing up and raising children of my own has allowed me the opportunity to travel with my own kids- and to decide what kinds of experiences we would have together. Like all parents I always find myself wishing I could do more- like take exotic vacations, African safaris or adventures to interesting places. But I am not in any position to complain; I made it a priority years ago to make sure we used our time off together to make new memories and create new traditions. Whether it was spending time at Disney, the beaches of Hawaii or even a cruise we have had a lot of fun. We have also had some challenges that were scary and stressful. I think my 8 month old son’s emergency surgery on Maui tops that list!
Traveling in the age of technology has created another layer of memory making- iphones and iMovie has allowed me to create cool videos to keep those memories fresh.  Pairing my favorite photos with music that I love has allowed me to relive the memories anytime I want, and to remember only the very best parts. I learned years ago that no matter what stresses came up during the trip, by taking the best photos of smiling faces and beautiful scenery I was able to recreate the memory in a way that was happy.  Now my kids are entirely more saavy than I am and can make the movies on their own.
This summer we did something we had never done before and traveled with my entire family to Canada where we visited the beautiful province of British Columbia. We had a great time exploring Vancouver, and enjoyed some long sunny days touring and spending time on the water. Really long days- actually the sun sets as late as 9:45 pm at some points during the summer months. Was there family drama or unexpected issues that arose? Of course- mixing that many personalities is never smooth but ultimately I think what we will all remember was that we took time from our busy lives and various routines and came together to create some new memories that I know we will cherish for years to come.
Do you need to travel far away to create new memories with your kids, your family or your friends? Not at all- you can do it right where you are. All it takes is a commitment to focus on the ones you love. And don’t forget to take pictures!Whistler

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You’re Told You’ve Got Cancer: Now What?

May 29, 2016

When Brooke Budke discovered she had melanoma, she could barely believe her ears. She remembers her doctor’s words. “Your results are malignant,” he told her. “You have cancer.” She stood in shock, with little idea what to do next. “I was terrified,” says Budke, a 32-year-old who lives in Leawood, KS, and is an executive at […]

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