I love to find collective lists that give me good ideas of how to conquer something in my life. Especially since I’m that lady who is griping at her kids about moving her glasses without permission annoyed everyone is laughing. Until that is, I go to hold my head in frustration and feel all three pair of glasses sitting there laughing at me too! Or worse, asking my kids if they have seen my phone just to have it vibrate in my hand. Yup, that’s me in all my 47-year-old geezer glory.
Let’s face it, significant issues take a bit more planning. The needs attached to them seem to be uncomfortably long. It’s way to easy to push it aside for a day. The risk there is the days can pile on. Seriously, if I could play hide and seek from adult responsibilities, just to sneak a break, I would—totally.
So to help out with ideas and provide possible first steps. I offer 10 helpful tips and tools towards managing tedious mental work and reasons why. The approach here is made with medically fragile households in mind. Homes that require work-intensive tasks in efforts to coordinate the illnesses present. But anyone suffering the same type of burnout, regardless of the source, may just find a few helpful nuggets as well.
Conquer the Burnout of Illness Related Tasks- 10 Helpful Starter Tips and Tools
1. Start your day with decompression.
This may be counter-intuitive and an often unique need in homes riddled with high-level medical needs. Truthfully, no matter who you are, starting off with the focus on clearing your head is recommended.
What is perhaps different for fragile homes is the immediate need for disease management from the very moment your eyes open. It’s tough to step back before stepping forward in the day. I promise, that if you make a habit of pausing to breathe, center, perhaps meditate as soon as you wake, those dreaded tasks are less overwhelming.
I accomplish this by drinking that first cup of decaf-coffee as I sit on the porch listening to nature. Bird calls, wind blowing, smelling the morning rain, watching the antics of pet owners trying not to be dragged down the street as their dog chases squirrels. It’s quite entertaining to me.
Sometimes I get up extra early to watch the sunrise or take time to do a bit of leisure writing. I take photographs of what brings calmness to me, draw doodles and a few other favorites. Making this fun collage picture was relaxing.
What I avoid is attempting anything to detail intensive right away. For example, I don’t try to sort our medications for the week into organizers when that involves 26 drugs a day. Just that alone is anxiety-inducing when considering the potential mix-ups and complications possible. I don’t care for anxiety to be the first emotion of my day. So if your mornings are dedicated toward extended medical regimen, doing small things to prep mentally can generate greater success completing those chores.
2. Make use of your smartphones clock features.
For many disabled households, schedules are chaotic due to rapid medical appointment changes. We have an average of 4 medical visits a week. Those can change as health conditions flare suddenly. I am one who struggles to do all the calendar entries into an app or Outlook Calendar quickly enough. Since most phones have a Sun-Sat format, you can at least use that quick to access setting for appointments the week you are in. Past that I use an old fashion calendar. But if you have something you like, great.
3. Utilize schedule/calendar apps/reminder apps.
Free options are out there, but ads complicate the visuals. Our minds are already tired. Spend the few dollars for better apps. Only purchase what is compatible with your device. It’s a good idea to sort those to show you reviews specific to your device and most recent version of the app.
I live off of Tom’s Guide and TechReview resources. Need suggestions, check out some recommended ones. I have my eye on one myself.
4. Sign up for Text reminder with your medical providers.
Oh how this has saved my life and eased pure frustration and embarrassment. I confess to having been out doing errands and get that ping notifying me of a text. I am good at pulling over or waiting to be safe to read. When I get a text that says, “Great news, its time to check-in online for your appointment at 1:00PM”, and I learned that at approximately 12:25 PM. Do I own up to having goofed up the schedule? Yes, yes I do, in my head. On a serious note, those texts have on occasion served as the last defense against missed appointments. If I can pull off a quick shift, it saves more work later.
Most healthcare systems have developed many online and text options to help you get to your scheduled appointments. This is such an essential step for medically fragile homes. Not only does it help you manage conditions, but it also helps avoids no-shows at the doctors’ office.
No-shows come with significant consequences. Everything from substantial fines to forced discharges. Be sure to know the policy of your healthcare offices. Some have overly aggressive cancelation/reschedule policies and tend to be unsupportive of the medically fragile patient. Take a look at these statistics below. Corporate medicine is a business, and they look at it as a cost saving. So should you.
Elect to opt-in for reminders and thank me later. Cell carrier may charge you fees depending on plans. If you are not sure how to do it, call your doctor for the text number and code. Some offices may require you initiate that while in for an exam, others direct you to online chart system first. Typically though all that’s needed is a text code. Local to Charlotte, all major medical systems offer this. Learn more at
- NOVANT – Opt-In Text Reminder Info ,
- Carolinas Healthcare (CHS) – Now Atrium Health -Mobile-Text Apps Info
**Disclaimer, CHS has recently rebranded as Atrium Health. Be advised they are the focus of multiple anti-trust/class action lawsuits. Be vigilant with billing matters. WSOC TV Anti-Trust Lawsuit Details, NC Medical Board Physicians Complaints Against Atrium
5. Sign up for your healthcare systems online Medical Charting Systems.
I am listing this separately from text enrollment, as you must enroll in each service separately. It is entirely possible to do one and not the other. It’s understandable to feel uncomfortable having appointment times and places pop up on a phone that can potentially go missing.
The only way to request email reminders, if desired at all, is to enroll with your various healthcare providers. Online charting systems, when used correctly and with proper expectations have lots of benefits. It saves time, supports organization, provides forms, and records. You can make appointments, message your doctor, request refills, specialist referrals, access billing information and more with a few keystrokes.
As a bonus some medical providers even utilize eVisits. Be sure to review the guidelines on what medical problems are eligible. Anything complex is best done during an office visit. Depending on the type of disabilities in the home, avoiding strenuous trips that can be handled in a less draining way is helpful, even for healthy individuals.
In my home, to safely complete everyday errands, I must pack possibly needed medications for flare-ups, along with emergency interventions supplies, walkers, blackout glasses, central line port supplies, IV dressings, sound canceling headphones for the boys, and any other items specific for our household disease management. Even a quick trip for gas requires preparations. Very much like parents of a newborn whom has more needs compared to teenagers. Any energy preserving and time-saving resource are sacred.
The one thing to keep in mind, some portions of online services require an enrollment initiated during an office visit to obtain a verification code, temporary sign on, or whatever is necessary to complete it.
If you are caring for a child, depending on the healthcare system, who is 12 years of age or over. Federal HIPPA laws allow a medical system to lock you out of your child’s records completely. At the same time, HIPPA requires them to allow parent access too. It ends up in a nasty grey area.
There is lots of abuse regarding this. I am infuriated by this ridiculous outdated approach. The intent is to allow children a safe way to seek medical help if at risk in the home etc. That access is ideal but not practical in many other senses. Most children that age do not even possess their insurance coverage information and seeing that a parent may be the policyholder, that ideal crumbles.
This is what the government website states. HIPPA Laws -Minor Rights- State Directed . NC is in the “silent” category, and extensive abuse is an active problem in Charlotte with both systems. HIPPA Help Center is an organization that uses plan talk to explain rights. They can also help you if needing direction on handling possible violations. They are a gateway. Visit HIPPA Privacy of Minors
The issue I have is very few 12-year-olds are responsible enough or emotionally ready to manage their health. It elevates if they are medically fragile or suffer cognitive disabilities. So please get informed on what you need to do. Arduous documentation may be required to allow you proxy access. Hopefully, your local systems are more reasonable. There is a way to push back, but the methods do not make it simple nor transparent.
6. Make use of your pharmacies online prescription tools.
In my home, we have well over 50 separate ones between the three of us. That is no exaggeration. As such, the ability to keep track is rough. Currently, our pharmacy has merged with another, and online services are suspended. It is disastrous for my situation. But before this, it was an essential tool I used daily.
If you are new to such service and tools, take time to visit your drug stores website. I find most do a good job explaining it and are sensitive towards senior customers. Some pharmacies will assist you in creating a profile. Others refer you to an online live chat to walk you through it. You owe it to yourself to take advantage of this if offered.
If your pharmacy does not offer this, and you have a large number of prescription in the home I recommend switching to one that does. I realize that is not always possible. Either due to location or insurance policy.
There are a few ways around this if you find yourself stuck. Ask which of your medications are eligible for 90 day supply program. The pharmacy can help you with that. This limits how much handling you need to do for that drug and potentially save you money. Activate automatic refills. If you are a Medicaid recipient, I’m sorry to report it is generally not permitted. As an alternative, ask your pharmacist to enroll you in their telephone reminder program.
I also use text messaging for my home. Everytime action is taken on my medication I get an update. Out of stock and ordered, waiting on a reply from the doctor, refill request confirmations, and prescription ready for pickup notices are options for many retail drug stores.
Quick disclaimer. Buying prescriptions online are risky. Several websites can help you determine if the retailer you are about to use is safe. If utilizing any companies in Canada check, Pharmacy Safety -Canadian Retailers , and in USA Verify Before You Buy Org is helpful.
7. Sticky pads are your friend.
I tend to favor these things while buzzing about the house. I seem to always be reaching for a light switch due to the need to darken the room for migraine management. Sticky pads and pen/pencil near wall light switches work for me. Place them at your lamp tables, in bathrooms, phone charge stations or wherever you frequently walk by.
It never fails that I remember something mid-task or take a call when I can’t stop and look for pen and paper. If I can’t manage complicated schedule input to app or phone, I write that down and do it later.
I find that while I am bathing my son, or shifting a child from one location to another, I’ll realize I am out of bandages, or an ointment, etc. It’s nice to have something nearby to capture that. Even the notepad on phones is useful. Transfer written notes to your apps later.
The microphone in your onscreen keyboard can be used to voice type anywhere you need. I use mine heavily. Shopping list, medications and more. I will never remember all the details on my own. My brain is too full and overwhelmed. I do everything alone, no support or friend to call in a favor. So that mental stress is eased through these options.
I recently started using these handy things. It’s excellent for keeping miscellaneous small items easy to reach, and out of the way. Or splurge for the more expensive types and hang larger items.
- Handstand-Original Sticky Pad ($6-$7 US)
- Sticky Pad- Dash ($12-$14 US) for those darn miscellaneous car items
8. Mail Sort/Mail Station Process
This was my area of weakness recently. I did not have this arranged firmly enough. Mail floated to wherever I was sitting with the laptop. Big mistake as items got lost. Doing things that way used to work but with the spiral of conditions and related upheaval, paperwork was getting lost, destroyed, or accidentally thrown out.
This point really deserves some formal addressing. In fragile homes, the environment can feel violate medically and emotionally. Disruption in the house can be intensive and expansive.
The reality for me is things will get tossed, last minute doctors appointment cause lots of rushing out the door and fundamental inability to keep track of items. I am one who can’t concentrate in a messy room, nor sleep well for that matter. That chaos impacts the physical home, but the emotional mind can get buried the same way.
You have to protect that mail. Any government services are given with an unforgiving iron fist. There is absolutely no wiggle room. Missed Dr bills can suspend your ability to be scheduled for appoints, cause forced discharges leaving you without a medical doctor, or automated fees that wreck credit.
I found this article on a website I now have tagged. The most significant point I took away was precisely the issue I now advocate. Don’t touch mail more than once until you have the mental time to do so….”BOOM!”
Read for yourself. It says it better than me currently. And seeing this weakness was my symbolic shame. I’d feel like a hypocrite spouting it off. I am grateful for the advice. Use it. You might want to pick up the nifty entryway organizer I found recently. I can’t wait for it to arrive …” in the mail”, of all things.
9. Online Grocery Shopping Pickup/Delivery.
This is growing in popularity. There is real cause for that. Dragging your kids to the store is a tedious task. Besides all the extras they nearly blackmail you into buying, the strain of hauling a sick child is worse.
My youngest is 150lbs due to illness, and in conjunction with other diseases must often be pushed in a handicapped equipped cart. At age 11, few stores are happy with him cranking up the electric scooters.
If you have the financial means and a location close to your residence, online grocery delivery can be a game changer. Save the trip and physical labor of carrying bulky items with your disabled body, or putting extra demand on an ill family member.
I must utilize food stamps. So online shopping can only be done through one store that happens to be the most expensive. Every area is different. In fact, your local store may be willing to make arrangements for you individually.
It all depends on who the manager of that store is. If they know you and if you are a faithful customer. It all counts. I am able to place an order online and swipe my EBT once I show up. The only chain here in Charlotte allowing that is Harris Teeter . Some Walmarts allow it but be very wary.
Many complaints have been filed with EBT management agencies. One suggestion is to contact your local Human Services Office. Many are now keeping a list of retailers accepting EBT online. A few States have a pilot program through Amazon.
Outside of the EBT roadblocks, credit/debit works just fine. Again a word of caution, know your vendor. Service reviews are helpful and actually visiting the store which will fulfill the order gives you an indication of the quality to expect.
The quickest way to locate stores in your area is through InstaCart. You likely already know who does this in your town. However, to those in more rural areas, consider delivery. InstaCart is mainly delivery geared. Prime Now, only requires driver tip, its a shortcut for quick needs and food items are more plentiful than you may be aware of. I can get organic meats and veggies along with a host of staple foods within 2 hours. Here are a few to check out.
InstaCart**Update 4/27/18**(No longer recommended for use as gift aid. Recipient must still provide personal credit/debit card for funds/hold. InstaCart operates as the 3rd party rather direct retailer.)
- Harris Teeter
- Food Lion – Pickup Service – (stores vary, but many require payment online)
- Prime Now – 2-4 hour
(Prime Now- a great option if Prime Fresh is not available in your area yet.)
10. Schedule structured downtime.
This is different than suggested morning decompression. The goal is to carve out intentional rest periods. I admit. I fail miserably at it too many times. I seem to only succeed when I go numb and then find myself binge-watching lousy anime or TV shows I am 2 years behind in.
I mention this as I sob having just learned Scandal has ended. My last episode I watched Liz was trying to escape to an island. Please don’t embarrass me with how many seasons ago that happened. Oh well.
Occasionally I “numb out,” and rest my brain. I have two low-cost streaming services. Those help me successfully, and entirely therapeutically, gain some distance from the stress. I hardly ever watch actual TV. We don’t’ have cable as the cost is unreasonably high. But the internet is a must. I may not get to hang out at the Y, go to theater or ballet show.
I encourage finding something that may seem a bit selfish and do it without guilt. Writing is something I love. I am unsure how good I am at it. But I sure do enjoy letting the words flow and opportunity to hopefully help someone. It hurts when long periods go by where I produce nothing. My dream is to have my nearly completed book published nationally. Along with a Syfy fan-fiction book I wrote upon Zane’s request. I nurture what I can for myself.
To close this out. Just remember that the goal is to manage that mental mayhem in whatever positive way works. These tools and tips are just a starting point onto a journey of navigating the management of emotional labor. It is hard, but worth it in the end. I hope something here can help and that you can at least find a start point that works for you.
Not even close to motivated yet, check out this very short clip. I promise it will shatter your world—with laughter that is. ENJOY!
What tips did you find helpful? Got any of your own? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to highlight the great ones!