One-off self-care can help in the short term, but a more effective strategy for chronic exhaustion is to make it part of your routine several times a week. It’s easy to cut short, so pick something you can’t wait to do – whether it’s a walk or a dip in a pool – and set reminders for yourself.
Recharge and contact.
For Chanea Bond, 32, taking self-care breaks has been essential in dealing with burnout. As an English teacher at Southwest High School in Fort Worth, Texas, Ms. Bond has experienced all dimensions of burnout – burnout, cynicism and ineffectiveness – over the past year.
Burnout rates tend to be higher among people who view their jobs as a call and “not just a paycheck,” says Dr. Schabram. Like the teachers.
Each day, Ms. Bond can teach a handful of students in person in her classroom and up to 25 simultaneously online. On top of that, she needs to be emotionally available to speak with her students, who are predominantly people of color, racial inequality, and gun violence. “It’s overwhelming,” she said. “There are a lot of layers of trauma without a lot of resources.”
Ms Bond has found that writing in a journal and focusing on gratitude helps recharge her mind and spirit. She also discovered catharsis by attending professional workshops and sharing her struggles with colleagues, friends and on social media. When the emotional weight of the recent miscarriages added to her burnout, she posted about it on Twitter and found a sense of comfort when people responded with words of empathy and support.
Yet she struggles from day to day. “I never wanted to get to Friday – and I never dreaded Sunday – more than this year, and it sucks,” she says.
Lighten your load.
Burnout was also an issue for Dr Sareh Parangi, endocrine surgeon and professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, and chair of surgery at nearby Newton-Wellesley Hospital. Dr Parangi’s burnout had crept in without her noticing, in part due to the weight of the responsibilities she had taken on.