Managing Stress & Preventing Burnout
“…chronic lack of self-care/compassion fatigue, like any other kind of fatigue, reduces our capacity or our interest in bearing the suffering of others” (Figley, 2002, p.1434)
Mental health • history of trauma • lack of training • clarity of role • unsupportive work and social environments • large caseloads/ long working hours • working extensively with severely traumatized people
Signs & Symptoms
Physical symptoms, i.e. chronic pain/illness • weight changes • guilt • sleep issues • exhaustion • fear • sadness • irritability • anger • lack of creativity • poor boundaries • poor self-care • cynicism/ complaining without solutions
Self-Care for Prevention & Treatment of Stress & Burnout
It starts with periodically assessing your current status and applying appropriate interventions.
Assessment Tools: Are You Burning Out Survey* / Compassion Fatigue ProQOL
- If you are what you eat, you are what you think.
- Expressive writing about trauma has been shown to promote physical and mental health
- Assess the comfort and clarity of your office, desk and car spaces
- Exercise, creativity and nature: Hike, walk, bike, dance, yoga, run; painting, photography, cooking, playing; observe or get into nature
Physical • Nutritional • Spiritual • Social • Emotional • Financial
- Write down what you do to care for yourself; daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.
- Do you have 3+ things for each category? If not, grow your list.
*Adapted by Michelle Post, MA, LFMT (from Public Welfare, Vol. 39, No. 1, 1981, American Public Welfare Association). Contact Michelle Post at email@example.com for assessment tool.
Taken from a webinar presentation by Michelle A. Post, MA, LMFT (Manager, Donor Family Aftercare, OneLegacy, Los Angeles, CA). Special thanks to Ms. Post for her contributions to this inservice.
The webinar presentation “Finding Calm in the Storm: Dealing with death, dying, and staff burnout” is available through the Alliance Academy: https://organdonationalliance.org/alliance-academy/
Figley, C. R. (2002). Compassion fatigue: Psychotherapists’ chronic lack of self-care. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 58, 1433–1441. doi:10.1002/jclp.10090.
Pennebaker, J. W. (2004). Writing to heal: A guided journal for recovering from trauma and emotional upheaval. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.
Phelps, A., Lloyd, D. Creamer, M. & Forbes, D. (2009). Caring for Carers in the Aftermath of Trauma. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 18:313–330, 2009 Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group.
Editor: Hedi Aguiar RN, MSN, Director of Programs and Communications, The Alliance, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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