How thriving outside of work can prevent burnout

During the era of Covid-19, NHS staff have been revered as heroes. There is no denying that the incredible work of healthcare professionals should be praised. But we need to recognize their struggles alongside their achievements. Suzie Bailey, director of leadership and organizational development at The King’s Fund think tank, sees the hero image as “a bit of a double-edged sword.” She argues that “in painting NHS staff as super-human, you belie the fact that they are, in fact, human.”

 

Last week, we discussed how burnout and mental health absences amongst healthcare staff are on the rise. The added stress of Covid-19 has intensified the everyday pressures of the job. The long shifts, potentially traumatic issues and demands to meet targets may be pushing healthcare staff beyond their limits. This state of excessive stress can lead not only to underperformance at work but can be detrimental to personal relationships and health.

 

Many of the contributing factors to burnout, such as the debated 12-hour shift, are out of the hands of healthcare professionals. However, some things can be done on an individual level to mitigate the pressures of the pandemic. Tying your whole identity to your job only encourages the stress to overwhelm with you. Thriving outside of work doesn’t have to mean dedicating time to a hundred personal projects, it can just mean making time for rest and enjoyment. Returning to work with a positive mindset can boost both your health and performance. We recommend these positive habits that healthcare professionals can put in place to avoid burnout.

 

Take time to relax

Acknowledging that you deserve time to relax is more difficult than you might expect. Even if you’re physically sat on the sofa drinking a brew, your mind may continue to race with stress about your responsibilities. What many of us lack is the ability to give our minds a break as well as our bodies. Simply turning off your phone can provide an escape from the constant chatter and anxiety-inducing headlines.

 

Switching off your mind with reading or listening to music is a great way to transport yourself from the stresses of daily life. It is also important to check in with your mind. Fifteen minutes of mindfulness can reveal the anxieties below the surface, allowing you to address them instead of letting them fester. Even putting stressful thoughts and feelings onto paper can release them from your mind, leaving you feeling lighter.

 

Talk to family and friends

Burnout has been shown to increase feelings of detachment and isolation. It may start out as trying to avoid social interaction but it could spiral into an unshakeable but inexplicable discomfort around others. Reaching out in the early stages can prevent this isolation.

 

With so many distractions in modern life, it can be easy to forget how uplifting a face-to-face chat can be. Social distancing does not have to mean social isolation. Winter may be on its way, taking the blessing of outdoor venues with it, but the online sphere offers virtual social events from Saturday night quizzes to interactive DJ sets. Fun aside, don’t be afraid to reach out for a more serious talk if you need it. Having someone on your side can make a world of difference.

 

Exercise regularly

You have probably read enough articles by now recommending exercise as a miracle cure-all. After an exhausting day at work, exercise can seem like the last thing on your priorities list. Nevertheless, it releases mental tension if nothing else.

Even if you shudder at the thought of jogging or push-ups, there are plenty of alternatives out there which you can do at home. A wide variety of online dance workouts are there to get you through with your favourite tracks. Yoga helps to release your body from the mundane routine. Even just a lunchtime walk can reset your mind with fresh air and a change in scenery. Choose whatever suits you.

 

Set boundaries

One of the most important things you can do is set boundaries between work and home life. Technology makes life easier, but it can also make work more inescapable. Establishing work-free hours sets the boundaries needed to create a flourishing identity outside of work. This can leave you coming back to work refreshed and ready to excel. During this time you can tell people only to contact you for emergencies or switch off email notifications. Make home a space for you and your family.

 

Reach out

If you are experiencing the effects of burnout and it is not going away or turning into something more, please contact a professional. Persistent mental health issues often cannot be overcome by individual actions. Please do not suffer alone.

 

The AppLocum team are also here for our staff if you need some extra support. We are committed to easing some of the stresses caused by Covid-19. Throughout the pandemic, we have kept in contact with our excellent healthcare professionals and continued to find them placements. Thank you to all of our locum team. If you have any queries, or would like support from us, do not hesitate to call or drop us a message.

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