Battling (and Overcoming) Burnout
Remember that feeling when you first became a practitioner? You finally finished your education and passed your exams. No more studying. No more late nights. You’re super excited to get started doing what you’ve worked soooooo hard for – to help people live their healthiest, best lives in the most natural way possible.
So, you buckled down and started taking the next steps – starting a new business from the ground up. You didn’t mind working late or on weekends because you knew that building a practice takes time and commitment.
Then, one day you realize you’re in over your head. You wake up… and the fire isn’t there anymore. The exhaustion and overwhelm has set it. Your energy is low and enthusiasm is lower. The thought of going to work and having to deal with everything on your plate makes your brain tired, so you hit snooze and curl back under the covers…
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Almost every healthcare practitioner stalls out once in a while. We call it burnout. But there’s hope! Keep reading to find out what it really means and how you can turn it around.
What Is Burnout and How Is Burnout Different From Stress?
Before we dive into what burnout is, let’s first talk about stress. As a clinician, you know full well the impact stress has on the body. Being in a constant sympathetic response with fight or flight symptoms showing up everywhere, isn’t good for anyone, especially you – the fearless leader.
And since running your own functional wellness practice is an ongoing affair, you may not be getting a break from high levels of sustained stress. When that happens, we get burned out.
The Mayo clinic has this to say about burnout:
Job burnout is a type of work-related stress – a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.1
That basically means that your stress levels have stayed unchecked for too long and are now impacting the way you interact with your business and your life. And let me tell you, the burnout struggle is real for clinicians!
Depending on what research you look at, somewhere between 42% and 50%+ of clinicians have experienced burnout symptoms.2,3 That means almost 1 in 2 practitioners have felt the unpleasant side-effects of burnout.
So, what exactly does burnout look like?
What Are the Symptoms of Burnout?
Burnout isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a process.
Think of it like this: you’re in a car headed towards the beach. Along your way, you pass kayak shops, surfboard rentals, and palm trees. All of these are markers to let you know you’re getting close to your destination.
So, what are those markers when it comes to burnout? Well, four of the tell-tale signs of burnout include:4
- Exhaustion. Too much work and not enough time begin to take a toll. This can leave you feeling emotionally or physically depleted. As a result, you can become more forgetful, grind your teeth at night, notice more digestive issues or have difficulty falling asleep.
- Irritability. Feeling a bit more snappy lately? Burnout can cause a loss of adaptability to normal stressors. Everyday tasks start to feel insurmountable, you start losing your cool more easily, and you feel more cynical about everything.
- Escape fantasies. I’m not talking about binge-watching a TV show to escape reality. I’m talking about when you start daydreaming of quitting your practice, changing your career, and moving to Nova Scotia (Hey, I’m sure it’s happened!).
- Loss of compassion for patients. As a clinician, being burned out can also mean you start feeling unemphatic towards your patients. You may start to feel like you have nothing left to give or that you don’t even know how to help.
If you read through this list and thought, “OMG, that’s me,” I have good news for you! Knowing the red flags – even if you’re experiencing them right now – is incredibly empowering. It means that you can recognize you’re cruising down that burnout road and can make a U-turn back towards a healthier, happier you.
4 Ways to Counter Burnout
You don’t wake up one day, realize you’re burned out, decide to fix it, and BOOM, you’re back to your happy, go-lucky self. That’s not how “fixing” burnout works.
If you’re feeling frayed, stretched waaaaaay too thin, or in full-fledged burnout, here are a few simple tips you can start doing today to turn it around:
- Get some help. It’s probably fair to say that you are where you are because you’ve simply got too much on your plate. Delegate some of that responsibility by bringing in some qualified help. Even if that means hiring a VA for just one to two hours a week, it’ll make all the difference!
- Unplug. Give yourself permission to go offline. This is beyond a few minor attempts to unplug. Get serious and leave your phone at home when you’re out with your spouse or friends. Install apps that prevent you from checking your work email outside of office hours. And make sure you’re in a blue-light free zone for at least two hours before bed.
- Schedule in time to relax. Chances are, you need a LOT of R&R and could use a relaxing vacation getaway. If that’s not possible, block out time on your calendar – a little time each day or week – that’s just for you. Listen to the silence. Go for a walk. Paint rocks. Whatever strikes your fancy and brings you joy.
- Create boundaries and habits to prevent it. The best way to avoid burnout is to keep it from happening in the first place. Set healthy boundaries, create solid self-care practices, and only do what’s authentic to you.
Your feelings provide exceptional clues that something may be off. Listen to what your emotions are telling you early on. They may be trying to give you a heads-up!
Ready to Love Your Practice Again?
Burnout happens to the best of us – especially those with huge hearts like yours who want to help others. It’s easy for you to take it all on your shoulders, only to find out that you’re not really built to do that – the pressure is too much to bear.
My friend, this isn’t just about avoiding burnout. It’s so much more than that. It’s about creating and enjoying a life you LOVE – one where you’re healthy, happy, and thriving.
If you’re struggling with burnout or want to set solid habits to prevent it, I’d love to help. Head here to grab a time on my calendar. I’d love to hear what’s going on with you and your practice and give you guidance for your next steps – whatever they may be!
1. (2021, June 5). Job burnout: How to Spot it and Take Action …. Retrieved June 26, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/burnout/art-20046642
2. (2020, January 21). Physician burnout: Which medical specialties feel the most stress …. Retrieved June 16, 2021, from https://www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/physician-health/physician-burnout-which-medical-specialties-feel-most-stress
3. (2018, December 4). Burnout in United States Healthcare Professionals: A Narrative Review. Retrieved June 16, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6367114/
4. (n.d.). How to Identify and Prevent Burnout – Healthline. Retrieved June 16, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/tips-for-identifying-and-preventing-burnout