One-off self-care may help in the short term, but a more effective strategy for chronic burnout is to incorporate it into your routine a few times a week. It’s easy to shortchange yourself, so pick something you look forward to doing — whether it’s a walk or a dip in a pool — and set reminders for yourself.
Recharge and reach out.
For Chanea Bond, 32, taking self-care breaks has been essential to managing burnout. As an English teacher at Southwest High School in Fort Worth, Texas, Ms. Bond has experienced all dimensions of burnout — exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy — in the last year.
According to Dr. Schabram, burnout rates tend to be higher in people who view their work as a calling, and “not just a paycheck.” Like teachers.
On any given day, Ms. Bond may be simultaneously teaching a handful of students in person in her classroom, and up to 25 online. On top of that, she needs to be emotionally available to talk with her students, who are predominately people of color, about ongoing racial inequality and gun violence. “It’s overwhelming,” she said. “It’s a lot of layers of trauma without very many resources.”
Ms. Bond has found that writing in a journal, and making a point to focus on gratitude, helps recharge her mind and spirit. She has also found catharsis by participating in professional workshops and sharing her difficulties with co-workers, friends and on social media. When the emotional weight of recent miscarriages added to her burnout, she posted about it on Twitter and discovered a sense of comfort as people replied with words of empathy and support.
Still, she struggles day-to-day. “I’ve never wanted to get to Friday — and I’ve never dreaded Sunday — more than I do this year, and it sucks,” she said.
Lighten your load.
Burnout was also a problem for Dr. Sareh Parangi, an endocrine surgeon and professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, and the chair of surgery at nearby Newton-Wellesley Hospital. Dr. Parangi’s burnout had slipped in without her noticing, caused in part by the weight of responsibilities she had taken on.