What is burn out? There are reams written about it and there is endless advice and preventative measures to ensure one can deal with burnout.
What if we could be guaranteed to never contract this condition called burnout?
Sound far-fetched? Read on…
What are the conditions that allow this officially designated medical condition to flourish?
Some of the factors stated to contribute to burnout are ‘work stressors, such as low pay, long hours, too heavy a workload, not having enough control over job-related decisions, conflicting demands or unclear performance expectations, unrealistic deadlines, lack of autonomy, lack of social support, few opportunities for promotion and just plain boredom’ and on it goes.
There is no denying that every one of the above factors can and in fact do occur in some workplaces.
Do we realise that when staff are ‘burning out’ the one’s within our care feel every bit of our stress and as a result, the care they receive is diminished?
How can we undertake our sometimes less than ideal work conditions and not ever succumb to burnout and at the same time maintain or deepen quality of and love of our work and those we serve?
Much of the research and documentation about burnout is related to the structural or relational aspects that are outside of our control or sphere of influence.
This does not mean we fail to raise our hand and voice our concerns about issues that affect us and those we serve. In fact, it is our responsibility to express these concerns.
How then do we avoid burnout and more importantly, how do we not react to what we experience in terms of inequities, lack of service quality and unsustainable work demand and instead provide, maintain and deepen the quality we offer at work?
What if the quality of our daily living and the love and care we offer ourselves was our insurance against burnout?
- We know when we get a good night’s sleep how restored we feel the next day.
- We know when we stop an argument before it goes down the repetitive rabbit hole, we also save ourselves stress and exhaustion and support the other person by not buying into their emotion.
- We know when we eat well and exercise regularly, our body celebrates with us.
- We know when we are honest and express ourselves clearly, that we feel a lightness in our bodies even if things don’t necessarily change.
The above choices inevitably support us and those within our circle of influence. It’s the small day to day choices that we make on a consistent basis that form a solid foundation in our lives. These qualities translate naturally to life at work. We are then less likely to wobble when the strong winds blow, or the sudden storm appears if we hold ourselves with deep care and regard.
The events and circumstances can be more easily observed and not absorbed when we feel steady and supported by our own consistent self-care and nurturing.
This lifestyle of self-care and self-respect is our insurance against burnout.
Our strengths shine in the workplace and powerfully contribute to team support, morale and culture.
And what’s more when we are steady and consistent our clients immediately feel this and seek our presence, even if it means just spotting you in the distance.
After all, is that not what we are employed for – to offer a quality service to our clients, despite the whirlwind of inconsistencies and inequities that exist?
We can’t change the world but we can change the world around us.
We can only change the world by changing how we are in it.
- Reconnect with the purpose of your work and why you do it?
- Evaluate how exhausting and debilitating it is to be constantly empathising or sympathising with others
- Be honest about the level and frequency of reaction you partake of– angry thoughts, blaming of others, unnecessary expressive outbursts or withdrawal.
- Begin to observe what is happening and not absorbing the emotions of others or their circumstances.
- Offer quality care and consistency that can be relied upon.
- Deal with your reactions after work in your supervision/debriefing or professional counselling.
Connect with the truth that every interaction you have with another, matters and contributes to the quality of care they receive, or not.
Bernadette explores ‘burnout’ in her 1-hour practical and insightful workshop Insure Against Burnout – How to Approach Challenging Casework online & in person.
Click here for event details and bookings.