Are you burning out??

Are you burning out?? 
From an Anonymous Follower 💪🏼💕

I learnt the hard way that ignoring symptoms of burning out can have disastrous consequences. My first experience of burn-out left me convinced I wasn’t a “good enough” OT, and that’s not really left me even years on. I still have nightmares about this first experience of burnout, but it did benefit me in one way– I’m much more able to recognise the early warning signs now. I still struggle with what to do when I’ve realised, but as I write this, I’ll have the “what do I do next?” in the back of my mind, because if I’m giving advice, surely I should follow it too?

What is burnout?
• “An experience of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion, caused by long-term involvement in situations that are emotionally demanding” [1]

How do you know if you’re burning out?
• For me, it’s a myriad of things. Exhaustion, resenting my workplace, losing confidence in my abilities as a good practitioner, unable to say “no” or to stand up for my own wellbeing/taking on too much because it’s easier than saying no, sleep goes out the window, as does regular meals, which exhausts me, so I survive on a very healthy diet of rice cakes and black coffee. My patience and tolerance of others reduces, and I become really cynical.
• Other symptoms may include: sleeping more/difficulty getting out of bed; comfort eating; difficulty concentrating; reduced job satisfaction; more physical illnesses like headaches or stomach-aches; persistent and constant state of “feeling stressed”

What can you do?
• The most important thing is to do something. Telling yourself “it’ll be better next month”, or “once this project’s done, I’ll be ok” doesn’t work, because if you’re already feeling less resilient, the feeling of burning out will grow and grow.
• If your employer has an Employee Assistance Programme, Occupational Health team, or wellbeing officer, consider talking to them about what support the organisation can offer. This is sometimes preferable to talking with a manager, because these guys are bound by confidentiality, so the risk of you feeling “watched” or judged for reaching out will be less.
• If you have a colleague/manager that you get on with – and trust – consider speaking to them. Keep it specific if you can, writing a list may help. What are the situations in the workplace that are difficult for you right now? This will help you both to consider possible solutions/adaptations. But if this feels daunting, even just starting the conversation is a step in the right direction.
• If it’s reached a point whereby your mental health is significantly suffering, and you can recognise symptoms of depression, I’d suggest speaking to your doctor. They may want to consider signing you off work for a while, to give you chance to rest. This is bitter sweet though rest is always welcome, but unless something changes, you’ll be going back to the same storm you took time away from, so it’s important to speak with someone at work about what changes could be made, even just for a short while when you return.

[1] Mateen FJ, Dorji C; Health-care worker burnout and the mental health imperative. Lancet. 2009 Aug 22374(9690):595-7.

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