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Burnout & Getting Real About Self-Care

What do you think of when you see or hear the word burnout? Maybe that meme of the cartoon dog, with the fire flames all around him as he thinks "everything is fine"?

What about self-care? Maybe bubble baths, and spa days?

The truth is, both burnout and the best intervention for it, self-care, have way more to them than most people think. So let's get real about this...

Here's some basic definitions. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Self-care is defined, by the American Psychological Association, as providing adequate attention to your own physical and psychological wellness.

When it comes to our personal and professional lives, especially those working in the mental health field, self-care is considered an ethical imperative...which is why they have an entire section for it within their code of ethics. But we need to notice the sings of when we're getting burnout and what to do about it.

Since 2020, people have experienced increased burnout due to the pandemic and social/racial justice issues. Even if you haven't experienced anything related to these two things, someone you know may have. But this is especially important to remember for anyone who works and is also a fulltime care-taker. (Children, elderly parents, etc.)

There's 3 main components to burnout: overwhelming exhaustion (physical & emotional), depersonalization, & a sense of ineffectiveness or lack accomplishment/ achievement.

When we think about self-care, we must pay attention to 7 Dimensions of Wellness according to the American Counseling Association. They include: social, physical, emotional, intellectual, occupational, spiritual, and environmental areas of our lives.

There's nothing wrong with pedicures and bubble baths, but those are activities for pampering yourself and can definitely be beneficial. So go on and treat yo' self!

But for true self care, try things such as

•Mindfulness/ Meditation - helps with increasing self-efficacy and being more aware of what's going on in your mind and body.

•Stay connected with loved ones

•Disconnect from social media

•Get a healthy routine to balance home and work life as much as possible

•Establish healthy boundaries with yourself and others....and keep them.

•Go To Therapy (Especially if you're a therapist)

• Engage in health promotive activities (regular exposure to nature, healthy eating/nutrition habits, healthy sleep hygiene, etc.)

•Learn and practice stress management skills (limiting yourself to negative triggers or neural exercises such as deep breathing, or rhythmic activities like walking. They help regulate yourself)

I hope you found some value from this. And feel free to share your anti-burnout advocacy strategies! Take care of yourself!

-Lakiah Edwin-Bankston, MA, LPC

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