I hear many times in my profession of something called, “Burnout.” Many describe it as a time when individuals are just tired, mentally and physically, from their jobs and I get asked at least several times a year if I have ever experienced it. Yes, the role of a psychotherapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, therapist, or whatever term you would like to label it, gets demanding and can be exhausting, but is it actually burning out or just an overload of stress?
An old supervisor of mine said something I will never forget, “Burnout doesn’t exist. It is just a state of mind,” and I could not agree more. If an individual reaches the point where they feel they are burnt out I feel like there are things they could have done to prevent that feeling.
It is important for every profession to have good stress management skills. These skills can be large or small but no matter the size of the skill we always need to apply them. Examples of stress management skills you can use for the work place:
Communication in the workplace is extremely important. Many times individuals get stressed when there is something happening at work that they may disagree with or that they do not enjoy, and if it can be communicated about or possibly fixed through a conversation it could potentially decrease stress levels in the long term. Communicate with your supervisors and coworkers!
Have an office? Add some decorations that comfort you: Pictures of friends/family/pets, quotes that you enjoy, candles, etc. Anything that is allowed at your facility. It is always nice to make your surroundings as comfortable to you as possible to decrease stress. There is a reason home is a comfort zone for us, we’re surrounded by comforting items. Try to make your work surroundings similar.
Sometimes we have so much on our plate we just want to crash, so prioritizing our work can be important for our mental state. Make “To Do” lists that include things you need to get done that day and number them in order of priority. This also helps anxiety that you may have about completing many projects in one day. It helps you see your goals and outline what your day may look like. It is also important to note what projects, if needed, can be pushed to the next day if there is just too much on your plate.
It is important to take some breaks throughout the day to re-energize your body and brain. Get up, stretch, get some water, have a snack, catch up on a phone call, read, apply some of those stress management skills, etc, to get your mind off of work for a little bit.
Many people make career changes in their lives and many times it is due to stress at their current jobs. This often happens when stress isn’t managed and “Burnout” happens, but sometimes changing your job helps and that is okay! Work takes up a large portion of our lives, you want to make sure that you are happy where you are going.
Our society is all about work. Working as much as we can, getting as many hours in as possible, completing 70 projects in one day, advancing in our careers as quickly as possible…it becomes overwhelming too easily. Remember to take some time for yourself. If you start to feel “Burnout” then remind yourself that you may need to do some of the steps listed above. Remember, it is a state of mind it is not something that just happens. If you start feeling run down at your job assess what needs to be changed and do it right away—waiting too long will make stress levels larger and your state of mind more negative. It can happen with any career so make sure you take the time to note when you need to focus on yourself and see what would make you happier in the work place!