If you were to compile a laundry list of tips and tricks to reduce the incidence of burnout, compassion, fatigue and trauma, your list would comprise of various ways to nourish and soothe your soul. Run yourself a bubble bath, savour a bowlful of your favorite ice-cream or ditch your ‘to do’ list in favor of a couple of hours cuddled under a blanket in front of Netflix.
Helping professionals give so much of themselves every single day, a regular refilling the personal ‘fuel tank’ is crucial if you’re to have any kind of longevity in your career.
While this may sound simple, it isn’t. The world doesn’t provide you with a flashing red sign telling you you’re running dangerously close to empty. It does, however, provide you with a million distractions and reasons to ignore the signs that do arise.
“Of course I’m tired. Everybody in the office is tired. We’re doing tiring work, right?”
“I felt really bad after that [interview/home visit/conversation] last week. But it didn’t seem to bother anybody else. Am I just being a bit of a princess?”
“So I had a bad night’s sleep. In this kind of profession, it’s normal to have the occasional bad night, isn’t it?”
You’re not alone in this. Self-care isn’t something that has to be done by yourself and for yourself.
Use your colleagues. If you start to tread over into that world of burnout, the first people to realize it will probably be your colleagues.
Use your supervisor. This person is your strongest advocate and if he/she is doing their job they will be there to challenge and support you.
Your workplace has a legal and ethical obligation to provide you with a safe and healthy work environment. Remind them of this.
You don’t exist in isolation. Take care of your own physical and mental health, but remember there are also lots of other people out there in the world who care for you, too. Let them.