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Avoid Caregiver Burnout By Adding Mystery to Your Day
By Lisa H. Jenkins, MSSA

Will my husband be able to get out of bed today? Will I need to call my parents to come take care of the kids? Will I get everything done that needs done today? As a caregiver I found that my thoughts were overrun with the negative anticipation of the next crisis.

One day, I read an article in a women's magazine about how adding an element of mystery can spice up a relationship. Right now my relationship was fine, but my own life definitely needed some spice. How could I add mystery to my life?

That Friday was my monthly self-proclaimed Donut Day. I would treat myself to two donuts and a coffee for breakfast. For a year I had been getting the same thing. This month I decided to spice things up a bit. I asked the server to pick my donuts for me and then I turned my back to the counter. She handed me my closed bag. The two minutes that it took me to get from the counter to my car were very exciting. What kind of donuts did she give me? Chocolate? Cream-filled? Glazed? I couldn't wait to open that bag!

Those turned out to be two of the most relaxing minutes I'd had all week. To be thinking of something fun instead of something stressful was wonderful. I arrived at work with a smile on my face instead of a pounding headache.

My first attempt at adding mystery to my life was successful so I decided to try again. In making plans to meet a friend for dinner I asked her to pick the restaurant and only give me the address for my GPS. When getting dressed one Saturday I had my daughter pick out a shirt and then I based my outfit on it. I bought a crazy flavor of potato chips that I had wanted to try and waited a couple of days before opening the bag.

The negative anticipation is still there, but the added spice of mystery provides this caregiver with enough of a break to keep pushing ahead.

Lisa H. Jenkins, Special Programs Coordinator for LIFE Pittsburgh, can be reached at (412) 388-8042 or ljenkins@lifepittsburgh.org

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