Self-Care for Practitioners: Burnout & How to Avoid it

burnout

Burnout Definition

Prolonged and built up stress can lead to several conditions, including burnout, which is defined by the Minnesota Department of Health as “feelings of extreme exhaustion and being overwhelmed”.

Warning Signs

The Minnesota Department of Health also offered a list of warning signs of burnout. Take a look at this list to see if you may be experiencing any of these signs:

  • Are you easily frustrated.
  • Do you experience regular episodes of sadness, depression, or apathy.
  • Do you ever exhibit blaming of others or irritability.
  • Are you feeling a lack of feelings or feelings of indifference.
  • Do you ever experience isolation or disconnection from others.
  • Do you exhibit poor self-care (hygiene).
  • Are you often tired, exhausted or overwhelmed.
  • Are you often feeling like:
    • A failure.
    • Nothing you can do will help.
    • You are not doing your job well.
    • You need alcohol/other drugs to cope.

If you are experiencing any extreme feelings of depression, self-loathing, or suicidal ideation, please reach out to emergency personnel for help. 

Coping Mechanisms

If you are already experiencing burnout or believe you are at risk, it is important to develop healthy coping mechanisms to endure and to get yourself on the road to recover. There are several healthy mechanisms, so the key will be finding the right ones for you! Here are a few suggestions:

  • Get Support! – Whether this support comes from a therapist, a partner, family members, friends, or co-workers, talk with your support people regularly, check in on each other, ask them to help monitor your work load and your self-care activities. Have them be your support people and your accountability partners!
  • Be Social! – You may be exhausted from work, but don’t let that keep you cooped up! Get out of your house and spend time with friends and family! If you need to stay home for long periods, such as if you are quarantining, or if social distancing helps lower your anxiety, don’t let that stop you from being social. Technology allows so many options! Chat with friends and family, do a long-distance game night, watch a movie or tv show virtually together, have a long-distance dinner! The options are endless!
  • Don’t Forget Your Hobbies! – What do you love to do? Cook? Read? Crochet? Exercise? Whittle? Whatever you love to do, make time to do it! Even if you can spend 20 minutes doing something you love, it will help relax you and allow you to unwind.
  • Limit Media Exposure! – The news and social media are rabbit holes filled with disease, death, and destruction. Just say no! Focus on pastimes that are positive and make you feel good. Avoid experiences that increase your anxiety and stress levels.
  • Get Moving! – Yes, you may be on your feet all day, every day at work… but, get moving on your days off as well! You don’t have to do cardio, taking time just to stretch can help! Come back next week for more exercise ideas like yoga to help reduce stress.
  • Eat Healthy! – Keep hydrated and choose healthy foods and snacks as often as possible (plan ahead so you’re not scrambling when you’re busy!). Eating healthy can help your immune system, so prioritizing this can have added benefits!
  • Get Your Rest! – Sleep is often the first thing we sacrifice when we are overwhelmed. But, less than 7 hours of sleep is not good for you and can lead to more health concerns. Keep a two-week sleep journal to assess the quality of your sleep and work on building better habits so you are getting the rest you need each and every night!

Celebrate You!

Last, but certainly not least, for today’s blog is taking the time to celebrate you and what you do! You have a noble profession. You take care of others who others who cannot take care of themselves and you save lives day in and day out! You are a HERO! Remember that and know that we all appreciate what you do!

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