Last week was a different week for sure. My schedule was anything but what it normally was. While I can easily adapt, by the end of the week, I had realized how burnout I really was and the need to practice, by fault some much needed self-care. Self-Care is not selfish.
As I had said, the week wasn’t normal and I knew that from the beginning. Since the first of the year, my routine has been changed because of my work schedule along with my need to realize that I need to be out of the house doing something more often than I am not. As the week progressed, things came up as time went by. Last Monday was the day of things that could go wrong would go wrong. As the day went on, it went better, but it was only the beginning.
When Tuesday came about and was a full and engaging day at work, that evening I realized that I did not have a therapy session scheduled for the week. While I was not in dire need of one and could use the break, I decided to go to the day program on my day off to make up for some time lost due to weather and other things. I thought I would give something different to an already changing routine a try.
While the next few days at day program were well in outcome and behavior, they too were busy and had an increased state of anxiety due to an impending winter storm that Friday. It drew a great amount of energy that made everyone very irritable and touchy. Although it has not been the only thing to cause this among the populace, it is because of a low census at the day program that burnout has been caused among both the members and staff. I could sense it, as we have been there before and COVID has not helped in this area.
What I needed was a mental health day, I have been lacking one and haven’t paid attention to the need to take some time for self-care. Because of the approaching weather, we left the day program about 45 minutes early Thursday with an unknown decision about transportation Friday. Having to work, I also didn’t know about the state of the office opening for operations. I was very anxious about how my Friday would end up, but I did know that I was in need of a day to practice self-care. As such, I was very overstimulated Thursday night into Friday and while I did get some sleep, it didn;t mean I wasn’t anxious including when I got up to start the day.
I would learn while the office would open, unfortunately there would be no transportation for the day, therefore I would be home. I saw this as a blessing and went back to bed for a few hours, getting some much needed rest. In the afternoon I would practice some self-care and the next evening get some much needed deep sleep, almost 10 hours worth, so that tells you I was really in need of a break so that I could get some much needed rest.
Having a positive sense of energy, you are only able to withstand so much opposing energy for so long until you reach your breaking point. Usually at that point you show signs where you’re experiencing signs of burnout. At that point, it is very important, just as it is everyday to recharge and practice self-care, as should be routinely practiced in autistics who are exposed to the elements of others in the community and even for me more so because of being exposed to several elements within the course of the week. Therefore, it is even more of a need to practice self-care by unwinding every day in order to recharge my batteries. When I do not do this, I become cranky and irritable and not of positive use to anyone that I am intending to help or be of use to. Everyone has their breaking point. Cultures in places where there are people can at times be very divided, toxic and full of energy. How you handle it is how it makes or breaks you. When you realize that this is happening and you are sometimes gruff about little things, this is likely the point when you are past your experience of burnout and need to take a break for self care.
Taking a day off for yourself is not selfish. Luckily for me, I am involved with places where there is never an everso pressing need to miss a day once in a while. Also scheduling time is important too so that those breaks can come with something fun to recharge your energy as there needs to be as much fun as you can have in these challenging times. You must realize that when burnout is approaching that you need to step aside and take care of yourself before it is too late.