Those of us in the caring professions can have the tendency to give to the point of depletion or burnout. We bring our natural tender heartedness into our jobs and in doing so, tend to get into patterns of over-giving. Henri Nouwen has called us the “wounded healers.” We want to give because we have experienced suffering in life, and can contribute to others because of our own journey to heal our wounds.
As a psychotherapist, grief counselor and a manager in hospice, I know how easy it is to fall into the trap of over-giving. It affects my personal relationships, relationships with my clients, and most important, my relationship to myself.
Here are some tips for preventing professional burnout. Here are my top ten tips for preventing professional burnout:
1. Reach out for support from your peers, friends and families.
2. Remember that you don’t have to be a hero and go it alone.
3. Create opportunities to debrief, and use professional counseling when appropriate.
4. Be kind to yourself and have fun.
5. Remember that you don’t have to — and can’t! — be perfect.
6. Stay healthy through restorative self-care and remember to laugh.
7. Set healthy boundaries.
8. Acknowledge your own wounded-ness, and use it to be an empathic source of wisdom.
9. Create rituals to delineate work time from personal time.
10. Reflect on powerful or difficult experiences through journaling and the support of peers, spiritual teachers and mentors to recover a sense of meaning, purpose and connection in life.