University of Southern California Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Don't Overdo It

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Don't Overdo It

Working at computer

It can be hard to do work and also look after your body

The things you do - like taking care of yourself, doing things for fun, hanging out with friends and family, or doing paid or unpaid work - can make life special and enjoyable. People who helped with this project liked to do many different things, like:

When you "overdo it" - when you try to do more than you have energy or strength for - you can hurt yourself. You might even get a pressure ulcer (which is what a doctor or nurse calls a pressure sore or bedsore) if you do too much. You need to know how to balance "good work" with "good health."

Doctors say that doing things is good for you. Some people feel better about themselves when they get a lot done, which can be called productivity (proh-duck-TIV-uh-tee). You still have to be careful not to overdo it, because you could get a pressure ulcer if you push yourself too hard.

Party time

Helen partied and stayed out very late. She got a pressure ulcer!

It can be hard to decide which is more important, work or health. Sometimes people work overtime because they are afraid to lose their jobs. Sometimes people are afraid that if they call in sick, they will lose their job. Sometimes people don't want to let their co-workers down. Sometimes people just like working hard, like Judy. Once, Judy had a pressure ulcer on her bottom, but went to work anyway. Her pressure ulcer got worse until she needed surgery on it. Overdoing it at work can also cause stress.

You can overdo fun things, too. It can be hard to remember to be careful and do enough pressure reliefs when you are having fun. Odel spent the day with his nephew enjoying a football game. That night, Odel found a pressure ulcer when he checked his skin. Helen partied on her birthday and stayed out very late. The next morning, a friend found a pressure ulcer on Helen's bottom the size of an egg.

Caregiver ironing

Your caregiver can help when you need to rest

A pressure ulcer starts as a red spot on your skin if your skin is light. It is a purple spot if your skin is dark. If you see a red spot, resting in bed for a few days can keep it from getting worse. Helen and Judy both healed pressure ulcers by staying in bed when they saw a spot on their skin. When Helen stays home in bed, she uses the time to ask her caregivers and helpers to do chores around the house. That way, she doesn't overdo it. She still gets things done. Helen stays productive.

Even though Alma works and does a lot of things for fun, she still takes time every day to get out of her wheelchair and rest for a half-hour or more. She has not had a pressure ulcer in years. Alma is productive, but she does not overdo it. Her advice is:

"Don't just say, 'Take care of yourself.' Take care of yourself, and do something that you like."