Almost every American has experienced burnout at one point or another along their career. According to recent studies, there is a 75% lifetime burnout rate experienced by social workers. Burnout and compassion fatigue is even more prevalent in social service-adjacent industries. Peer Professionals exist right within this field, and know firsthand the importance and the weight that guiding individuals through recovery entails. While it’s incredibly rewarding to work as a Peer Professional, there are times that you may need to take a step back and care for yourself. Along with this, knowing that it’s highly likely that ANY professional will experience burnout at some point, it’s important to know a few signs to look out for and how to prevent it. In this post, we’re digging into what burnout is, common signs to watch out for, and some helpful ways to prevent future burnout.
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).
Burnout can affect your overall health – mental, physical and emotional. Some signs that you are experiencing burnout can be found below:
- Feeling exhausted at work
- Becoming more cynical or critical at work
- Feeling less productive – and not having the energy to be productive
- Feeling disconnected from your job
- Feeling like you “just don’t care” about your work
- Feeling irritable with clients or peers
- Having a difficult time concentrating at work
- Feeling a sense of failure at work
- Feeling a lack of satisfaction at work
If you feel like you are experiencing burnout based on the indicators listed above, check out our post that covers how to address burnout when you’re already experiencing it. Keep reading to learn more about preventative measures you can take to avoid burnout in the future.
Ways to Prevent Burnout
Find Time for Breaks
Whether in day-to-day work, or taking a day off – having periodic breaks to recharge is essential for you to maintain your health in all areas of life.
Having clear boundaries between work and personal life is critical. Working as a Peer you are obligated to, first and foremost, take care of yourself and your personal recovery. According to the Code of Ethical Conduct, because it is critical to your role, you are expected to prioritize your recovery above any work obligations. This means seeking out the appropriate resources as needed, and taking a step back from your career when necessary.
Communicate With Your Supervisor
Consistently communicating with your supervisor and other team leaders can ensure that they know your workload, and can check in as necessary. Keeping the line of communication open can also make it easier to talk to them once you are beginning to feel burnout.
Learn New Stress Management Techniques
If you find it difficult to manage stress, or are feeling overwhelmed – try learning new ways to manage your stress. Is there a workout class you’ve been wanting to try? Feeling like you’ve been stuck inside lately? Interested in journaling but never given it a shot? These are all great examples of how you can incorporate new coping techniques into your routine! Having daily de-stressing activities can lower stress levels overall, and keep you from experiencing burnout.
Find a Healthy Work Balance
If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “too much of a good thing can be a bad thing”, you can apply this here. Typically, the most engaged and enthusiastic employees are the ones who are more likely to burn out. While your passion for your work is one of the best qualities to carry into a job, it’s important to maintain healthy work boundaries. This will ensure that you not only avoid burnout, but to keep your personal wellness a priority as well.
Learn More About the Peer Professional Role
If you’re looking for some guidance on how to create a healthy balance within this role, check out our post about a typical day working as a Peer.