Burnout is a word we often use within the helping professions. It has become the topic of numerous continuing education classes, lectures, and seminars and is something that we strive to prevent at all costs. Although burnout is a hot topic within the field of mental health, it is a phenomenon that can be experienced by others who are not in the helping professions as well. Burnout is characterized by three main factors: emotionaland/or physical exhaustion, detachment from or cynicism aboutone’s work, and a feeling of being unable to affect change or accomplish anything substantial. Burnout often occurs slowly over a long period of time and can therefore be difficult to recognize when it happens. When it does happen, it often renders the individual’s work much less effective, if not totally ineffective. Once an individual recognizes that he or she may be experiencing burnout, it is time to take action. One may seek the counsel of a supervisor or mental health professional, begin taking steps towards caring for oneself physically through diet and exercise, and if at all possible, one may take a break from work. Sound familiar? Here are some signs that you may be experiencing burnout.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms it is not too late for you! Look for ways to manage the stress in your life in a healthy way. Seek the help of a mental health professional or a trusted friend or supervisor. Take the time to take care of yourself and take a break from your work. If you do not, you will not be able to perform your job to your fullest potential and your physical and mental health will suffer. Burn out is preventable and reversible, and it all begins with self-reflection.