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Looking After Yourself...
Participation as a bikur cholim visitor will bring you satisfaction, growth, and strength of spirit. The work is rewarding. Keep in mind the importance of knowing your strengths and limitations. Our personal experiences with and feelings about illness, disability, aging, death and dying all influence our reactions and relationships to those we visit.
"When we have good intentions and are clear that what we are doing has merit, then when we set boundaries we need not be apologetic, and there is no shame in that for ourselves or for the other. Healthy boundaries are established when the attributes of lovingkindness and strength are in balance..."
Rabbi Uzi Weingarten, "Communicating with Compassion" 2003
Signs you may be too involved
- You are distracted at home and find yourself frequently wanting to talk about the person you are visiting. You are unable to get the patient off your mind.
- You are overwhelmed by your own feelings of fear, anger and helplessness.
- You find yourself saying "that could be me."
Factors influencing burn-out
- Lack of boundaries of what you/your group can and can not do.
- Unrealistic expectations, spreading yourself too thin or wanting to fix peoples problems.
- Identifying too closely with a patients experience, reminding you of yourself or a loved one who suffered.
It is especially hard to say NO to two groups of people: people for whom we feel sorry and people for whom we care. Remember your role, your intentions and your limits. But when asked to do something that you do not feel comfortable doing, it can still be hard to decline.
Be as brief as possible:
Simply state a legitimate reason for your refusal, "I really dont have the time," and avoid elaborate explanations, justifications, and "lies" (e.g. "I cant because my mother is coming in from out of town" or "My child is ill").
Actually say the word "No" when declining:
The word "no" has more power and is less ambiguous than, "Well, I just dont think so" or "Well see" or "I cant just now." You might need to say "NO" several times before the person hears you.
What you can do if you suspect you are burning-out
- Talk to your bikur cholim leader or peers. Get support. You are not alone.
- Go to a training. Figure out if you need to play a different role in your group.
- Take some time off.
- Set realistic goals
Stress Management Tips
- Nurture yourself. List 5 things that you enjoy doing. Choose something that inspires or sustains (e.g. exercise, buy flowers, take a relaxing bath, nap, see a movie, listen to music, gardening).
- Utilize deep breathing and relaxation exercises.
- Journaling. Write out your thoughts. Be spontaneous. You can record what is stressing you or whatever surfaces as you put pen to paper.
Remember: Think positively of your accomplishments. Compliment yourself!
|"It is not up to you to complete the work, yet you are not free to abstain from it."
Ethics of the Fathers 2:21