In the professional world, burnout is all too common. Even more persistent, global lifetime burnout rates in the social services industry are a skyrocketing 75%. Working with individuals who are dealing with mental and physical health struggles can cause depersonalization in the workplace and take a toll on your mental health as a result. Peer Professionals work are individuals who go out into the community and work with individuals in early stages of recovery, equipped with their personal lived experience of addiction recovery. Peers can often experience compassion burnout due to being overwhelmed by emotional work situations. Because it is such a common experience for individuals engaging in social services, it’s important to know how to address it. In this post, we’ll dig into what burnout is and how you can address it once you’re actively experiencing it.

What is Burnout?

Job burnout is a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity (Mayo Clinic).

Many people refer to burnout as feeling exhausted at or due to work. Unfortunately, it’s not this simple. Burnout occurs when you are constantly faced with stressful situations within your professional life, and have emotional, mental and physical reactions to this stress. Potentially caused by many factors, here are some of the most common causes of work burnout:

  • Lack of control
  • Unclear job expectations
  • Dysfunctional workplace dynamics
  • Extremes of activity
  • Lack of social support
  • Work-life imbalance

(Mayo Clinic)

How to Address Burnout When You’re Already Experiencing It

We see it all the time – how to prevent burnout, stages of burnout and more. What we don’t see often is how to address burnout, specifically as a Peer Professional. Knowing the unique professional landscape you operate in, we wanted to provide you with specific ways to address burnout in your position!

Let Your Supervisor Know
First and foremost, let your supervisor know that you are experiencing burnout. This can open up a conversation about how to address your current situation, and how to reduce stressors that may be leading to your feelings of exhaustion. Most importantly, your supervisor can help guide you through steps to take, not only to address it, but also to help prevent feeling burnout in the future.

Assess Your Schedule
After talking with your Supervisor, take a look at your schedule. Are there any days that are appointment heavy, leaving little time for other areas of your life? Are you working with clients every day of the week, with no free days left? Or are you simply feeling overwhelmed working with individuals experiencing trauma and mental health struggles? Identifying what could be adding pressure to your work boundaries can help you to create a healthier and more balanced relationship with work.

Seek Support
If you’re experiencing exhaustion from work, it’s important to find support in other areas of your life. Lean in to your support systems – family, friends, recovery coaches and therapists are all safe support options. Seeking out support can alleviate some of the pressure from burnout, and keep your wellness at the forefront.

Incorporate Relaxing Activities
Working with people experiencing trauma, mental health issues, and grief can create a high-stress environment. Feeling the pressure from highly-emotional situations each day you work can leave you carrying that tension around into other areas of your life. Finding relaxing activities, like meditation or reading a book, can relieve stress

A slightly out of focus photo. It shows a person sitting on a couch or bed, they have a book open on their lap and a coffee mug in their hand.

Plain and simple, if you’re exhausted you may need sleep. Being on overdrive, even if it’s emotionally or mentally, can exhaust you physically. Sleep restores your wellbeing and can keep your health safe.

Take Steps to Prevent It

The most effective way to prevent burnout is to practice self-care. Prioritize yourself by carving out time to relax and step completely away from work. As always, this is sometimes easier said than done. Especially working in a field where people rely on you for their own mental health. If you’re looking for more ways to prevent burnout, check out our post dedicated to this topic. While there are many steps you can take to reduce burnout, you may still experience this while you’re working in social services or any adjacent field.

It’s important to remember this: You can not effectively support another person if you are not first supporting yourself.

It Can Help to Talk to Someone Who Can Relate

If you’re new to working in social services, or as a Peer Professional specifically, and want to talk to someone who can relate – we’ve got you covered. Working at Kyros, our team of Peer Supervisors is incredibly supportive, skilled and most importantly experienced. They can provide invaluable insights into working as a Peer effectively. Find out more about how you can do this now.


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