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Managing Burnout: Remember Who the Real Enemy Is

At varying points in our lives almost all of us will likely struggle with some form of burnout. For most, this is likely in their professional lives however, it can impact almost any part of our lives. Burnout most often comes from us giving more than what we have left to give leading to one of three main components: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, or decreased sense of accomplishment. Emotional exhaustion leaves us feeling emotionally drained like there is nothing left in the tank to give, depersonalization is when we take the little we have left and check out, and decreased sense of accomplishment is the feeling that the work we do doesn’t matter as much anymore. Any of these components can lead us to feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, having an impact on our mental and physical health.

Managing burnout is much trickier than we often think. How often are we told to just ‘take better care of ourselves’? This doesn’t resonate very well when we feel like we have nothing left to give, not even to ourselves. Instead, the way that we must look to manage burnout is through knowing who ‘the enemy’ is. ‘The enemy’ is not us or our own motivation/willpower, instead, most often it is a product of our situation. Perhaps working in physical, emotionally, or mentally exhausting jobs, or having very condescending or draining coworkers. Simply ‘taking care of ourselves’ alone may not be enough. Instead, we must know that ‘the enemy’ is not simply ourselves, but rather the system we are in, and the structure we have in place.

Changing the relationship with our system can happen in many ways. If we are feeling like our work leads us to emotionally being drained at the end of a hard day, then perhaps finding a friend, partner, or family member that we can share in our emotions to help us through them will allow us to ‘recharge.’ For some, finding hobbies or activities that they enjoy enables them to unwind and reset before the next day, such as going for a walk, fishing, reading a book, creating a craft, etc. For others changing the relationship could mean standing up to a rude coworker or even changing jobs. Regardless staying in the place of feeling burnt out and blaming ourselves causes us to become the problem. Instead know who the ‘real enemy’ is, identify your needs and stand up for what you need.

I completed my Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family
Therapy from NorthCentral University. I have a strong
background in child development and experience working with
children and adolescents as a Special Education Para and
Mental Health Case Manager. As a therapist I use a
combination of Solution-Focused and Narrative Therapy to help
create positive change. I believe in empowering clients to find
their own strengths and use those strengths to create
meaningful lasting change. I strive to provide a safe place for all
my clients to be heard and offer the tools they need to create
the change they are seeking. 

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