Chronic Illness and Burnout: Tips To Prevent and Manage Feelings of Exhaustion (Part 2)
If you missed it, check out Part 1 of this series: Chronic Illness and Burnout: Recognizing the Signs.
Realizing that you are experiencing feelings of burnout and taking action to feel better both physically and emotionally is an important step to take. As with most changes, I like to first start by assessing my goals and visualizing what an ideal situation would look like for me. Once I have established this clear, attainable picture, I then move forward with reasonable steps to accomplish my goal.
Preventing burnout before it happens
Prioritize your health
In the face of inevitable physical exhaustion when dealing with HS, it can be extremely beneficial to prioritize activities that cater to your emotional wellbeing. Paying special attention to your body and its’ needs can make all the difference in avoiding burnout and the negative domino effect that can occur. Having set routines in place for sleep, exercise, self-care, meditation, receiving support, and having established treatment plans can make all the difference.
Dealing with HS all alone can lead to even the most positive person experiencing burnout. Some days will seem as though they never end and the pain can seem to amplify by the hour, so it is important that I establish and lean on my support system. No matter how I choose to find community in my battle with HS, I lean on this community when necessary and identify what I need from others.
Take a step back
Sometimes all we really need is a break from a specific stressful situation. For me, this would be taking a break from researching information about HS or engaging in conversations that are not helpful for my wellbeing at the time. This could also be finding a new doctor or taking some time away from people who do not support you in your illness. Regardless of which method you choose, breaks are a nice way to prevent burnout when dealing with chronic illness.
What if it's too late? Managing burnout after it happens
I choose to look within
I start by checking all of the areas of my life, even those that are not related to my HS, and identify any concerns that need to be addressed. Oftentimes, other stressors in life can exacerbate symptoms or feelings that surround a chronic illness. I take time to check my mental space such as my thoughts, my dreams, things that inspire me, what makes me angry, how I manage feelings of sadness and the ways that these concepts all tie into how exhausted I am. Once my stressors have been identified, it is easier to lighten my load and focus on healing in a positive way.
I focus on filling my cup
After identifying and acknowledging the source of my exhaustion, I give myself time to enjoy activities that make me feel satisfied. This could be a wide array of activities that is individual to each person but some activities may include: watching a movie, exercise, getting a massage, journaling, or adhering to a sleep schedule. In order to fight a disease like HS, we have to constantly pour back into ourselves especially in moments of burnout.
I practice positivity
Choosing to view my glass as half full instead of empty is sometimes easier said than done. However, having a positive mindset is key when dealing with a disease that has no cure. This doesn’t mean that you have to be happy every day, but in the grand scheme of things, you have to find your 'why' to keep fighting.
Regardless of whether I am currently experiencing feelings of burnout or I feel that it may be on its’ way, being mindful of this list of ways to maintain my wellbeing is always at the forefront of my thoughts. Knowing that burnout is inevitable and having the tools to combat the negative affects of this concept is key in staying on top of my health.
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