By Bianca Smit
“Burnout is a sign that something needs to change.” – Sarah Forgrave
The abovementioned statement makes it sound so easy: If things do not work, change them.
However, it is not as easy as it sounds.
Health practitioners, nurses and social workers make the conscious decision every day to sacrifice their own wellbeing so that they can take care of other people’s wellbeing.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently announced in a press release that burnout is now regarded as a medical condition. This follows shortly after the South African Society of Anaesthesiologists (SASA) reported in April this year of three anaesthesiologists who committed suicide in separate instances with the main reason of burnout.
Doctors are confronted with patients suffering from burnout every day. They are specialists in the field when it comes to their patients and know exactly what symptoms to look out for and how to treat them, yet most of the time they do not recognise the symptoms in themselves.
Solidarity’s Occupational Guild for Health Practitioners wants to encourage doctors to follow their own advice when they notice symptoms relating to burnout in themselves. Burnout is the root of many serious problems. If it isn’t treated it can lead to serious health issues or even medical malpractice, alcoholism or even suicide.
Some techniques to prevent burnout is challenging for certain occupations, but your guild wants to encourage you to try these techniques, even if it is one at a time.
Here are a few tips on how to start turning things around slowly but surely:
It might sound like the perfect world, but it is very important. Instead of pressing the snooze button wake up five minutes earlier and take a moment to be calm. Sit in the garden, read a devotional piece or just sit in bed and wake up at your own pace without rushing. We understand that you are sometimes called out for an emergency and then the abovementioned is not an option. In this case, have some quiet time in your car or make sure that you have a feelgood playlist ready that you can listen to in the car.
- Eat healthy, exercise regularly and sleep
In your occupation sleep might be a luxury, but it is very important that, when you do get the chance to sleep, you do it properly. You can sleep less, but with certain things in place you can get better quality sleep even though it might be little. Make your room your little sanctuary where you can leave the day at the door. When you are eating, eat right. Do not just grab that cup of coffee, rather opt for something a little healthier such as water. Also, do not eat big portions right before going to sleep. Exercise when you get the chance; it doesn’t have to be daily, just when you can. Once a week is better than no exercise at all. If you’d rather spend the day with your family find a sport or hobby that you can do together as a family that keeps you active.
- Put technology on the side
Make the most of your time off. Don’t be on your cell phone or laptop the entire time. Take a break from technology especially before going to sleep so that your brain can rest.
- Remind yourself why you do what you do
Why did you choose your occupation? Sometimes life gets so busy that we forget why we pursued our career in the first place. Write notes for yourself to confirm why you chose your occupation in the first place and when you realised you were born to do what you are doing. This will help you to wake that feeling of purpose again. It also lowers the risk of burnout.
Your work is very important but take a break. You are worth more if you are looking after your wellbeing than when you let yourself suffer from burnout.
The abovementioned, are only a few tips of many more. Even if you only apply one of these today you are already on the road to victory.