When I first entered the job market as an eager college graduate, with my cape on ready to save the world as a bright-eyed helping professional, no one told me about job stress or burnout. I quickly learned after coming across many of my peers, who on the first appearance seemed jaded and lacking self-motivation, that stress is real. It would not be to years later that I fully understood that they were stressed out, which lead to burnout, and in some instances depression and anxiety, and not to mention health problems. Not only did I fully understand, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. And yes, you may think there was plenty of warning signs, but because I thought that people just were not “happy” with there jobs, and most often they would leave the organization. For me, it was the frustration of working long days, feeling of lack of support, and overwhelming paperwork. Not to mention the fact that I had not had a vacation, unless you count the week out of work with an upper respiratory infection, in over a year.
The day that I broke down crying from having to go to work, I knew something needed to change. Working in the mental health field, I knew the signs and symptoms of depression, and I knew I needed to see someone. I started seeing a therapist through my Employee Assistance Program, and shocker I was diagnosed with situational depression. I was told that the depression would go away, but I would need to change my “situation.” At the time my “situation” was my sole income, and I had just bought a house, so quitting was not an option. So I came up with my coping mechanisms, which I still use today, which has helped me stay in the helping profession for over ten years.
According to the CDC.gov
” One-fourth to one-third of U.S. workers report high levels of stress at work. Americans spend 8% more time on the job than they did 20 years ago (47 hours per week on average), and 13% also work a second job. Two-fifths (40%) of workers say that their jobs are very stressful, and more than one-fourth (26%) say they are “often burned out or stressed” by their work. “
These number are not only alarming, but enlightening. They help you get an understanding of what is going on in organizations.
- Seek Professional: Having a sounding board was one of the best things that I could do. Yes, you can talk to friends and family. But, it is also good to talk to a trained professional, who can recognize the signs and symptoms of depression.
- Get a hobby: Finding time to do things you enjoy is imperative. Whether it is Karaoke with friends, knitting, or even blogging, it is important that you have something that does not involve work. Exercising is a great hobby which reduces stress and anxiety.
- Meditate: Meditation has become an intricate part of my life for the last few years. I have a dedicated space, which I call my “safe space” whenever I feel the need I can go sit in my room and process.
- Take a vacation: As I previously stated, when I first started experiencing stress, I had not taken a vacation in over a year. At this point in my life, just the idea of not taking a vacation stresses me out. I made a goal for my self to take a vacation from work every 90 days. Vacations can be expensive, but you do not necessarily have to leave the country. Take a mental health day and stay home in your pajamas, take a long weekend and catch up with friends and family. But, whatever you do TAKE A BREAK. As an educator and manager, I tell my students and staff that breaks are your best friend especially if you plan on working as a helping professional.
- Learn to say NO: The good old word “no,” we take it for granted. When you hear a two-year-old say it, we laugh and say how cute. But, as adults, we have come accustomed to think the word “no” is evil. It is not a bad word, but rather one of self-preservation. It is empowering and motivating, all while allowing you to set clear boundaries. At the beginning of my professional career I had a problem saying “no,” but I realized quickly that sitting on multiple boards, facilitating multiple trainings, all while working a full-time job and teaching part-time was wearing me thin. I learned that saying “no” did not mean I was incapable, what it meant is that I understand the value of my “yes” and the work that I will be producing.
Have you ever experienced burnout, what did you do to address the symptoms? Let us know in the comments below!
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