A guest post by Emma Grace Brown
The term “burnout” isn’t just a word used to describe a long or particularly trying day – it’s a real syndrome recognized by the World Health Organization. It consists of mental and physical exhaustion from workplace stress that leads to feelings of negativity and disconnection. Left unaddressed, burnout can have a negative impact on your career, and your life. Mary the Medicine Woman can help you find a healthy, holistic approach to tackling the burnout beast.
What Leads to Burnout?
There are a number of workplace issues that contribute to burnout. There could be poor or ineffective management, a habitual lack of organization, over or understaffing, or workplace bullying. Burnout typically builds over time, and according to Mayo Clinic, manifests when professional stress is ongoing, and when a person has little or no control over the levels of stress they’re encountering. It can be especially prevalent in fields like healthcare, or with those working as first responders. A poor work-life balance, social isolation, long hours, and a heavy workload are other contributing factors.
So are you getting burned out, or just having a few bad days? Burnout is characterized by its intensity and its longevity. A few heavy days may weigh on you, but true burnout arises when the level of stress is ongoing. You may find you have trouble sleeping, eating, or maintaining healthy relationships; you might experience anxiety or depression or find yourself relying on caffeine and alcohol or other substances to get you through your days. Burnout can also lead to frequent illness and even chronic conditions like high blood pressure. It can also exacerbate pre-existing conditions like diabetes or heart problems.
Recognizing burnout is the first step in combating it. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to improve your working conditions by talking to your supervisor or human resources rep about your struggle or asking for a transfer to another division. You can also seek outside support from friends, family, or even a trained therapist. You might also explore other career options. Consider going back to school if it will help you get ahead or embark on a new career path. An online business degree can be earned while you’re still working, and you can often study at your own pace.
Self-Treatment for Burnout
While easier said than done, you can start recovering from burnout by prioritizing self-care. Leave work at work and try to separate yourself from your profession. This can be incredibly challenging in a caring field, but there are many therapists who specialize in helping those suffering from burnout in caregiving roles. If you have personal time available to you, take time off to recharge. Prepare healthy meals and go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Meditate, exercise, take a yoga class, and learn mindfulness practices. Recognize burnout for what it is – the feelings that come with burnout can be isolating, so remind yourself, you are not alone.
Setting yourself on a healthier mental and emotional pathway is the first step in addressing burnout, but it’s a multi-step process – you also need to be proactive in ensuring you don’t get burned out again. This might mean changing jobs, reaching out for help when you need it, or expanding your social support circle. Once you’re more familiar with the symptoms of burnout, you should be able to identify if you feel it creeping in, and take proactive steps to combat it. Speak up if your workload becomes untenable. Ask for time off when you feel the pressure mounting. Make an effort to include people on your support team rather than exclude them – healthy social connections are critical.
Burnout isn’t just a buzzword, it can be a serious health issue. If you feel yourself slipping into depression or becoming despondent, contact your primary care provider immediately, or call 911. While real and sometimes debilitating, burnout can be addressed by healthcare providers, and you can come through the other side.
Mary the Medicine Woman believes healing is a process and not a destination, and offers practical strategies and solutions designed to help you live a happier, healthier life. Visit the site today to learn more.