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Rest, ye merry caregivers

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After months, or even years of absorbing a loved one’s pain, the added stress of the holidays can cause the sudden onset of a little-known condition called “compassion fatigue.”

Symptoms include irritability, outbursts of anger, difficulty concentrating and exhaustion. The caregiver feels unappreciated and may even have difficulty caring about others.

Who is most at risk? Often, they’re individuals who are caring for their loved one on their own. They’re devoted individuals who have few interests beyond caregiving. They lack external support.

If you or someone you know is at risk, it’s especially important to take care of yourself now. Set aside a few minutes each day for a quick nap, to write in a journal, or to meditate. Take a walk outside, spend some time with friends and enjoy your hobbies. Most important, surround yourself and your loved one with family. To make the most of this time and create enduring memories, rest, indulge in your favorite things and let the support of others surround you and your household with humor, comfort and joy.

—Joanette Clipson
Oklahoma City

Clipson is a bereavement coordinator with Crossroads Hospice.

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