062. Leslie Stewart, PhD, LPC 

 January 16, 2020

Burnout is normal--and fixable

  • Have you had the “Sunday night feeling,” the stomach-sinking realization that your break is over and it’s time to go back to work?
  • Have you become less patient and less interested in other people’s needs? 
  • Do other people’s choices leave you feeling irritable or cynical?
  • Have you started making dumb mistakes? Letting things fall through the cracks that ordinarily you’d catch?
  • Have you felt isolated? Had the sense that everyone’s counting on you, but no one really cares about how you’re holding up?
  • Does it feel like whatever you do is never enough?
  • Do you find yourself unable to leave work at work? 
  • Are you replaying situations in your head long after they’re over? Do people tell you you need to “let it go?” (Cue Elsa. ❄️)

If you answered yes to some of these questions, it’s likely you’ve experienced a period of professional burnout.

Leslie Stewart, PhD, LPC, says this is completely normal and to be expected. 

Really. It’s normal. And expected.

Most helping professionals (counselors, doctors, nurses, firefighters, social workers, and, yes, pet professionals) will have a few bouts of professional burnout in their careers.

Well, that’s good news and bad news.

Let’s start with the bad. 

Your brain can’t tell the difference between a life-threatening emergency, such as a fire; a social risk, such as embarrassment; or the memory of a past traumatic event. 

Also your brain responds the same way to trauma to you as trauma around you.

In each of these scenarios, your brain sounds the alarm and your body responds by moving into survival mode, focusing its energy on preparing to fight or flee, and shutting down “bonus” functions, like critical thinking and digestion. 

But in your day-to-day life, most situations aren’t actually life threatening or clearly defined. 

You never get an “all clear” signal that tells your brain to stand down, so your brain is working overtime, spotting and responding to perceived threats all the time. After a while, you can start to feel as if you are living under siege.

I bet you’re wishing for some good news now, huh? 

The good news is that there are lots of helpful strategies you can use to set yourself up for success. You may not be able to completely avoid periods of struggle, but knowing what to look for and when to intervene will put you way ahead of the curve.

This episode is full of ideas for things that will help you feel like yourself again. Dive in! 

Click the image below for access to the Professional Quality of Life Scale, Self-Care Assessment, and recommended wellness activities.

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