What is Burnout and How Can it Be Prevented?
As the COVID-19 pandemic has raged on, the world's healthcare providers have seen a steady increase in the condition known as burnout. Burnout is characterized as: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job, and reduced professional efficacy.
When your job is saving lives, burnout can be a very scary reality for many of those experiencing the condition. The mental effects of burnout can have long-lasting impacts. But there's hope. For many, burnout can be avoided or reversed with an increase in self-care. Self-care is often overlooked as unnecessary or even silly, but the reality is that many of the things that constitute self-care can be vital to saving frontline healthcare provider's mental state.
Exercise, Diet, and Detox
We all know that diet and exercise are important for our physical self, but the mental effects are almost just as important. The hormone changes that our bodies experience with a healthy diet and regular exercise has many positive benefits. In addition, many are finding that also detoxifying their lives, in both diet and the physical part of their life has a very powerful effect. Think of a juice cleanse for your body, and a purge of your closet - both have a very positive outcome for your physical world.
Emotional boundaries are very easily overlooked, especially for highly sensitive people. While the word boundary may seem aggressive, the reality is that it simply means that each person gets to decide how much emotional energy they are willing to give and or receive. It may look like limiting time with people who make you feel exhausted after talking with them, or avoiding personal topics when speaking with a particular person. Setting the boundary of what you're willing to do or not do is a great step towards preserving your mental state.
Over the last several years, we've seen an increase in simple art such as adult coloring books. Why? Because exerting creativity has a positive mental effect on the participant. This doesn't require the person to be VanGogh, but rather to do something creative that is inspiring to them. Knitting, gardening, painting, coloring, singing, writing, playing an instrument are all great ways to express creativity.
While it may seem impossible, creating a priority list of the important things in your life can help you avoid burnout. Even just creating a prioritized list can help shift one's mindset. Knowing where your priorities lie can help with decision making, boundary setting, and creating more time for other forms of self-care.
At LIFE, we work to provide resources for both healthcare workers, and anyone else in need of of help. Please visit our resource page to explore the options. And if you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, please call the national suicide hotline by dialing 988 for immediate help.
Please remember, there's always tomorrow. And we're here to help.
Watch our own Dr. Mara Windsor discuss how to combat burnout.