Month: <span>April 2021</span>

How to Deal with Burnout and Avoid it in the Future

So many times life is ok until it isn’t. We hold it together and shuffle from responsibility to responsibility, attempting to uphold all of our commitments while also dealing with the stressors that come along with it. 

 

Sometimes it feels like if one more thing goes wrong or you have to take on another responsibility in your life, that delicate balancing act that you’ve been in charge of comes crashing down around you. 

 

Feeling overwhelmed or burnt out isn’t a fun thing to live with and has potential to lead to mental and physical health issues if not addressed properly. 

 

Common stressors and things that can often lead to feelings of being overwhelmed are common occurrences throughout a person’s lifespan. These common stressors include things such as pregnancy, trouble with a boss, a career change, or a change in responsibilities at work. However,  feeling burnt out or overwhelmed by these stressors doesn’t have to be a normal part of your life. 

 

Myself, like many, have gone through a lot of life changes throughout the last year. From transitioning to working from home to added responsibilities at work and less time for socialization due to Covid-19, it slowly wore me down. I soon felt myself feeling exhausted all the time and had a lot of difficulty concentrating enough to be productive at work. I started getting more moody around my family and started feeling so overwhelmed that I could barely uphold any of my responsibilities. 

 

Luckily, I was able to recognize my feelings of being burnt out and overwhelmed by my life that I was able to implement some of the tools that have helped a lot of my clients dealing with similar feelings of being overwhelmed and burnt out. 

 

If this sounds like you, it’s important to understand that just like other feelings, these feelings of being overwhelmed don’t need to be a constant part of your life and there are lifestyle tweaks that you can do in order to alleviate some of these heavy feelings. 

 

Work on a Solid Sleep Schedule

 

Mental health and sleep are closely intertwined and more research is coming out that is finding that poor quality of sleep or not enough good sleep can lead to an increase in stress and other feelings that may contribute to feeling burnt out or overwhelmed. In fact, research has found a link between sleep, insomnia, and the activation of anxiety and depression symptoms. 

 

This being said, try creating a sleep schedule to foster better and longer sleep if you find that you are having trouble sleeping and staying asleep. Experts recommend 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults. 

 

Mindfulness is your Friend 

 

Recent studies have found that using mindfulness techniques such as meditation, journaling, and deep breathing are effective ways for reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.

 

If self-guided meditation isn’t your thing, there are a lot of different things to try that are also mindfulness based. For instance, try exploring different mindfulness videos or apps. Many are free and can help get you started in including mindfulness in your daily routine. 

 

Make Changes to your Schedule 

 

United States culture values hustle and ‘the grind’. In fact, taking on side jobs or ‘side hustles’ is often encouraged and is slowly becoming the new normal. However, as our lives become progressively more filled with responsibilities or expectations from others, it can start to have a negative effect on our mental health and ultimately lead to burnout and feelings of being overwhelmed. 

 

Take a look at your daily schedule and try to notice if there are any times that you dedicate to doing something you like or that is relaxing. This could be taking a walk, playing an instrument, or talking with a friend or family member. If it is starting to seem like there isn’t enough time in the day for these kinds of activities, it might be time to see if there is anything you could maybe let go of. 

 

Work on Saying No 

 

As I mentioned above, our society is based around the word ‘yes’. Sometimes, it seems that this is the only answer when someone asks you to do something. Constantly saying yes to things creates more stress in your life because it adds additional expectations and responsibilities that you need to juggle. 

 

If you’re a ‘yes’ person and find yourself feeling stressed every time you have to say yes to something, try working ‘no’ into your vocabulary a little more. Now, I’m not saying to say no to every opportunity that comes your way. However, understanding what you can take on and where to draw boundaries is a great first step at managing future stress and future burnout. 

 

Take Breaks 

 

Not taking breaks throughout your day is a surefire way to reach burnout fast. While it may feel like taking breaks will make you less productive and less likely to accomplish tasks related to the responsibilities, taking breaks may have more benefits than one. 

 

In fact, taking breaks throughout the day has been found to help restore your motivation, especially for long-term goals and tasks and can lead to more productivity and creativity. Because of this, try to schedule small breaks throughout the day in order to give yourself time to feel refreshed and refocused before jumping back into your tasks and responsibilities.

Mental Health and the Aging Population

By year 2050, the proportion of the world’s population that is over 60 is expected to almost double from 12% to 22%, creating a greater necessity for recognizing and treating the special mental health challenges that this population faces. In fact, according to a 2021 study from the Institute on Medicine, approximately 1 in 5 people that are 65 years or older experience a mental health illness, substance abuse, or both. 

Within the United States alone, this statistic equates to almost 5.7 million older adults. These mental health challenges include; anxiety, cognitive impairment, and mood disorders such as bipolar disorder and depression while older men have one of the highest suicide rates of any age group.  

Mental health challenges are not a normal part in the aging process. Good mental health helps to contribute to an overall sense of well-being and is an integral part in having a good quality of life that can help older adults continue to thrive and enjoy life. While fluctuation in mood is normal, persistent changes in mood and other symptoms can be a sign of mental health distress.  

Depression Symptoms

Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health problems among older adults and can often lead to distress, difficulties in mental and social functioning, and even suicide. While increases in depressive symptoms have been seen in older adults, it doesn’t need to be a normal part of the aging process. 

In fact, more than 80% of cases in which an older adult is experiencing depression is treatable yet seniors are less likely to seek or receive help when experiencing these issues. This is why it is extremely important to understand and identify symptoms. 

Dementia 

Dementia is usually categorized as a progressive or chronic syndrome and entails a deterioration of memory often affecting older adults. In fact, it is estimated that around 50 million people worldwide are living with dementia throughout the world and is projected to increase to 82 million in 2030

Dementia usually has significant social and economic costs for those affected as well as the individual’s family. Because of this, emotional stress as a result of dementia can have a significant impact on the individual’s mental health. Due to this, mental health care is essential for both the individual with dementia and their support system. 

Risk Factors 

According to the WHO and the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, many factors within an individual’s life can trigger the onset of mental health difficulties. Some of these risk factors include: 

 

  • Alcohol or substance abuse 
  • Long-term illness such as cancer
  • Loss of a Loved One 
  • Physical disability or loss of mobility 
  • Chronic Pain 
  • Isolation*
  • Medication Interactions 
  • Poor Diet 
  • Other Mental Health problems such as Alzheimer’s Disease 

 

*Isolation may be something more prevalent due to Covid-19 and older adults should be carefully monitored and checked in order to decrease the risk of severe mental health distress that may stem from Covid-19 and the resulting isolation. 

 

Symptoms of Mental Health Issues in Older Adults

While it is natural for some changes to occur throughout the aging process, it’s important for caregivers and those close to the older individual to be aware of the signs and symptoms that may be signaling that mental health issues are happening.  Some warning signs that may indicate mental health concerns are: 

  • Changes in appearance 
  • Continual confusion 
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Depressed mood lasting two or more weeks
  • Changes in social functioning such as social withdrawal
  • Changes in energy 
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or thoughts of sucide or self-harm 
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that used to be pleasurable

 

Treatment Strategies 

While it is important to understand the risk factors and signs associated with mental health problems within an aging adult population, knowing how to handle signs of mental health problems is equally important. Because of this, it is essential to train health professionals in providing care for older individuals, developing policies on extended care, and creating age-friendly services and settings. 

If you see a loved one exhibiting any of the symptoms or risk factors described above, call for a consultation with a healthcare professional. This will help get the best level of care possible for the individual facing mental health challenges.

Interventions 

Early diagnosis and treatment of mental, neurological, and substance abuse disorders in older adults is an essential part of care. Due to the wide variety of mental health issues that older adults can face, a combination of psychosocial interventions and medicines are typically used. 

In addition to this, social and community support is an important aspect in promoting this population’s mental and physical health. 

Educating, training, and supporting caregivers and healthcare providers on long-term care of older adults as well as supporting legislation surrounding mental health care for older adults provide support and care that can help promote a healthy and high quality of life for older adults. 

Take the time to check in with your aging loved one, especially during this time of social-distancing and don’t hesitate to seek help if you think there may be signs of mental distress happening.

 

How to Start Therapy

As recently as ten years ago, mental health wasn’t something that many people talked about. In fact, seeing a therapist was rarely something anyone would advertise in their life. However, as mental health becomes more normalized, seeking therapy is something that is progressively becoming a standard practice for many. 

Is therapy right for me? 

It can be difficult to know when going to get professional help is right for you, especially if you have never been to therapy before. Therapy is a vulnerable and private experience and starting can be overwhelming. 

Because of this, it may take some time and consideration to decide if you are ready to see a therapist. However, according to the American Psychological Association, therapy should be considered if you:

  • Thinking about or coping with the issue for more than an hour a day 
  • The issue pushes you to avoid others 
  • Your quality of life has decreased as a result of the issues you are experiencing
  • The issues are negatively affecting aspects of your life such as school, work, or relationships 
  • You have created coping mechanisms or habits to deal with the issue that are causing problems or a decrease in quality of life

If any of these things describe you or you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or generally unhappy, it might be a sign that your internal ‘check engine’ light is on and seeing a mental health professional such as a therapist could help. 

Benefits of Therapy 

For those of us that don’t have a lot of experience with therapy, it could be seen as something that is for ‘crazy people’. However, that isn’t the case. In fact, a lot of successful people use psychotherapy as a tool to help manage stress, navigate life transitions, and gain skills to be successful and happy in life. 

In fact, research shows multiple benefits that therapy can have for individual. For instance, therapy can help you to better understand yourself, how you think and how you feel in situations better, give you tools to deal with difficulties in your life, and help you gain new insight and perspective. In addition to this, therapy also gives you a non-judgemental space to process and talk through emotions and difficult events.

How to Start

Finding a therapist, scheduling an appointment, and going to your first appointment can be a bit daunting. Because of this, it is important to understand and acknowledge any stigmas that you may be holding that are keeping you from starting this process in the first place. 

If you are worried about privacy or disclosure, it should be noted that therapy is confidential. This means that no one in your life is even needs to know that you are seeking therapy. Additionally, mental health professionals are bound by law to protect your privacy so you can be confident that what happens in session stays in the session. 

Finding a Good Fit

There are a lot of things to consider before making an appointment with a therapist. We recommend taking a look at the clinicians available here, knowing what the cost is and if your insurance will cover any of it, and what type of therapy you are looking for. 

It may also be helpful to come up with a list of questions for the therapist. This can help you get a better sense of what to expect from therapy and to help you feel more comfortable with starting this process. 

Some common questions to ask are: what experience does the therapist have working with your particular situation, what does a typical session look like, and kind of therapy does the clinician practice.    

What Happens if the Therapist I see isn’t a good fit? 

If, after your first session, you feel like the therapist isn’t what you are looking for, it is completely ok to try another therapist out. It isn’t uncommon to try another therapist and is completely fine to break off that relationship. 

While it may be uncomfortable to ‘break up’ with your therapist, it is important to push past those feelings in order to find something that will be beneficial to you. Let the current therapist know that it doesn’t seem like a good fit and the therapist or practice can help you find a clinician that may be a better fit for you. 

Remember, mental health professionals’ main goal is to help you get better so we don’t take it personally if you think someone else will be a better fit for your specific needs. 

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