Aaron Chy, BSc
Have you ever felt a lack of enthusiasm, irritability, cynicism or fatigue lasting more than several days? Have you ever found yourself uninterested or even sarcastic when faced with stressors, or sat at home by yourself dreading work the next day? These are the cardinal signs of burnout, a state of chronic mental and physical exhaustion characterized by detachment and feelings of ineffectiveness. Individuals who are burnt out may experience negative effects to their own health, and are more likely to make mistakes or experience accidents in the workplace.
Burnout can affect anyone regardless of occupation or education and healthcare workers are no exception. The responsibility of caring for patients and the expectations that come with it place a heavy burden on those in the healthcare system. Combined with the constant pressure to work longer hours and the stigma of making mistakes, it becomes easy to ignore the signs of burnout until the very late stages. Ultimately, professionals don’t deserve being washed-out, and patients don’t deserve a frustrated care-provider.
So what can you do?
Creating a balance between work and personal life is crucial to maintaining mental health. All too often professionals find themselves absorbed with their work; taking on a hobby or passion can be an invaluable form of escape that can relieve stress and engage the mind. Every person will differ in what interests them, find what brings out the best in you in the form of creativity or expression.
Exercise can make a day-and-night difference in one’s life with respect to both physical and mental fitness. A single workout can leave one feeling relaxed, energized and ready to face what challenges may come.
How can we help each other?
Burnout and other symptoms of mental un-wellness suffer the most from lack of openness. The age-old attitude of “I can do everything” or “toughing it out” has led to a stigma around emotional hardship. High achievers can often struggle admitting difficulty to themselves and others, and go every day without help.
Just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re failing. Reach out, and take care of yourself.