Chronic Illness Burnout

Managing a chronic illness can be exhausting! There are so many components that need to be addressed in the management of a chronic condition from appointments, to procedures, to medication, to life in general, with the added stressors of today simultaneously all the while managing the physical sensations that the condition may cause. In my practice I like to use the following metaphor:

In video games we start out with a few hearts and as we go through the game and defeat a boss, we gain more hearts. Now, lets just say that each person starts the day with ten hearts. A person with chronic condition(s) may have had a bad night and didn't sleep well, that knocks out possibly one-two hearts. Then they may wake up in pain (minus one-two hearts), attempt to do their morning routine while experiencing pain (minus another one-two hearts), perhaps they have kids and have to help them get ready for school (minus two or more for each child). Now they have to head to a big boss battle, perhaps it's a big presentation at work, at this point, however, they may have half to no hearts left to go into this battle. How are they supposed battle that big boss? 

This is how it can be for someone with a chronic condition, and of course they feel exhausted after their morning routine, needing a way to replenish their energy. However, life can be demanding and may require one to operate with little to no energy. It is completely understandable the difficulty one may endure in the attempt to comply with their medical team’s recommendations. With competing demands how does one manage their chronic condition and whatever life throws at them without experiencing burnout?

Acceptance and commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Hexaflex

In my practice I utilize the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Hexaflex points to assist clients to find direction and travel towards a person that they value. Using the Values point of the Hexaflex, I encourage clients to identify their values to facilitate a direction between the competing demands.

Another contribution to burnout, could be a consequence of having thoughts of past that could lead to depression which can further take a few hearts. Or perhaps it is a consequence of thinking about the future, resulting in freezing anxiety, and therefore consuming another few hearts. However, in placing one’s awareness in the Present Moment, can be energy replenishing. I encourage clients to practice present moment awareness by turning their focus to their five senses and how it can relate a sense of calm:

TasteWhat does the air taste like? Is it cool and refreshing or energizing?
SmellWhat does the air smell like? Is there a sweet floral scent, or does it smell clean and fresh?
SoundWhat do you hear? Is there birds that you can hear chirping or the wrestling leaves in the wind?
SightWhat do you see? Does the sun sparkle between the leaves wrestling in the wind?
FeelWhat do you feel? Do you feel the warmth of the sun on your face or chill of the wind as blows across your face?
Questions that I asked myself to engage five of my senses in the present moment to achieve a sense a calm.



ACT Made Simple

ACT Extra Bits

This is a portion of energy replenishing exercises to combat chronic illness burnout. To learn more strategies or to discuss other demanding life stressors, contact us and we can assist you on your journey to wellness.

This month’s blog post was written by Aarti Felder, our specialist on managing Chronic Illness and Mental Health. To learn more about her, please check out her bio.