What is burnout you ask? The definition of burnout is physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress. Wow! Physical or mental collapse! Try both simultaneously. Another definition I found stated that its emotional or mental exhaustion with doubts about your competence and value of your work. Wow again, because I’ve doubted myself a lot more lately than I ever have in the past. Burnout is real and burnout sucks! Burnout can occur in any type of field, but especially in the mental health or helping field.
Since I began in my promotion, a short 3 months ago, I literally have not taken care of myself. I have slacked dramatically with my self-care, I used to work out with a trainer and now I’m lucky if I hit the gym 2-3 times a week, I don’t get enough rest, I’ve been cranky and sad and mad, and the answer to all of that is, I was so close to burnout or perhaps hit burnout, in such a short amount of time. So how does someone get burnt out? Well, for me, I wasn’t taking care of myself and I was putting my job above everything and it was not good for me mentally or physically. I know I’ve gained weight, I know my mental health has been slacking, I know I was close to collapse. I’m not saying that this must happen to everyone who experiences burn out, nor do they have to experience both, I’m only speaking for myself.
How can you tell if you are close to burn out? Ask the following questions:
*Have you become cynical or critical at work?
*Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started once you arrive?
*Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers, or clients?
*Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
*Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
*Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
*Have your sleep habits or appetite changed?
*Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, backaches, or other physical complaints?
I didn’t realize at first that all I was feeling was attributed to that. Burnout can lead to so much more, if not discovered soon enough. You can become excessively fatigued, suffer with insomnia, depression, anxiety, and various medical issues. What am I doing since discovering this? I’m going to therapy weekly, I’m trying not to let the little things overwhelm me, and I’m remaining confident in my abilities.
What are some things I think you can do if you are feeling like you are on the edge? I’ll provide a list of things to start with and feel free to adjust according to what works best for you.
1. Manage the stressors that contribute to your burnout.
2. Discuss specific concerns with your supervisor. What are the options for continuing education or professional development?
3. Adjust your attitude. Rediscover enjoyable aspects of your work. Take short breaks throughout the day. Spend time away from work doing things you enjoy.
4. Seek support.
5. Assess your interests, skills, and passions.
6. Get some exercise. It can help you get your mind off work and focus on something else.
7. Get some sleep. Aim for at least 7-8 hours each night.
I think if you incorporate more of those things into your daily to do, then you can either overcome burnout or prevent it from occurring. Trust me, its not something you want to experience, and you must take care of you. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, no one is going to love you like you!
So, I’m probably about to ruffle some feathers with this new topic, but it’s something that really is important to me. There are a lot of things said about mental health issues surrounding spirituality, especially in the African American community. I just wanted to give you my thoughts on it and possibly give you a few ways on how you could incorporate spirituality into therapy, or therapy into spirituality.
I go to church, almost every Sunday. My relationship with God has grown so much in the last two years (shout out to my Pastor and my church)! I know that God is the Alpha, the Omega, the everything! I know that God orders and guides each step that I make in life. Everything that has happened in my life, happened because God destined it to happen and I’m ok with that knowledge.
I also know, as a person that has been in therapy, almost all my life and who decided to follow that as my passion in life by becoming a Clinical Mental Health Therapist, that I can see both sides of spirituality and mental health. With that being said, there are a lot of memes and photos on social media, with which I agree, stating “You can have Jesus and a Therapist!”
Let me break it down for you from my point of view. I’m someone who has a history of Trauma, Abuse, Neglect, drug abuse, I have PTSD from both my childhood and my time in the military, and various other things that just happen in life. I grew up in the church, but I also grew up in therapy. I was in church almost every Sunday, every Wednesday, and even some other days throughout the week my whole entire life, so I have always known who God was and who He is in my life. The issue that I have with spirituality and mental health is when those with mental health stigmas tell me and others struggling to “just pray about it and it’ll go away…” The problem with that is that it doesn’t just always go away. I know that God is capable and able to do all things, but I also know that accidents happen, illnesses happen, bad things happen to good people, and God is still in control of all of that.
I pray to God all the time about my anxiety and PTSD, but I also love talking to a good therapist and developing coping skills to alleviate my issues. I believe both things can and do work. I just don’t agree with people who say one thing works better than the other. I’m a firm believer in communication, meaning when you openly communicate your problems, your fears, your good or your bad, that it is healthy for you. This is what a good therapist does for you, they just listen.
I’m also coming from the perspective of being a black girl who deals with mental health personally and has dealt with mental health professionally and I believe in Jesus and pray too! I just personally don’t think everything can just be prayed away. There is a chemical imbalance in the brain associated with some of the more severe diagnoses that medication is needed to treat and that it does help repair what is damaged in the brain. Medication management can aide in people who are diagnosed with more severe disorders lead and manage their lives. With proper medication management, those diagnosed would not be suffering with the symptoms associated such as hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, etc. and can be free to live their lives and be anything, including doctors, lawyers, therapists, or even pastors.
So perhaps creating a weekly or monthly To Do Prayer List where you pick a topic relating to your mental health to talk to God about, can be a good way to combine the two. Below you’ll find a list that I have come up with for starters:
1. Pray about what coping skills God wants you to learn.
2. Pray about what past issues God wants you to work on.
3. Pray about how to slow your thoughts down if you suffer with racing thoughts, like I do.
4. Pray and ask God how to improve your attitude and temper.
5. Pray to God about what self-care skills you can do to improve your daily life.
6. Pray to God about how to stay calm in the midst of what seems like a storm.
7. Pray to God when you cannot sleep.
8. Pray to God about recovering from Trauma.
9. Pray to God about recovering from Drug & Alcohol Abuse.
10. Pray about how to work through your relationship issues.
Feel free to add, change, and adjust to meet you where you are.
I agree that you should still pray about whatever it is you are going through and ask God to assist you in developing skills to cope. I know He is able. I just also believe that combining the therapeutic outlets out there, can aide in developing those skills even further. I believe you can have Jesus and a therapist too!
I said I was going to try to be more consistent with this blogging and giving out information related to Mental Health and overall wellbeing. So, with that being said, I’m going to be discussing self-care because as I was recording these thoughts to write, I was in the midst of self-care myself, even though I was working on a blog at the same time, lol.
Since I’ve started in my promotion, I have literally sucked at self-care, so bad! I work all the time, I don't get enough rest, I rarely get any "me time". So last night, I got in a hot bath, I had some Epson Salt, some bubble bath, and a dissolvable bath bomb thrown in. I had the lights off with just some candles burning and I was just attempting to Zen. I took time to talk to God, I read some daily prayers, and did one of my favorite things, which is Pinterest!
So, let’s talk about self-care! Whether you are in the Mental Health field, the Medical field, whether you work at McDonalds, if you are an Electrician, especially if you are a Teacher, but anything, you should be utilizing self-care! Self-care is so important, and I think a lot of people don’t realize how instrumental it is in keeping you in the best shape possible! At the end of the day, you must take care of YOU! You must love you first, because at the end of the day, no one is going to love you or take care of you, like you.
Here are some examples of self-care that I use myself, when I do it.
1. Taking a nice hot bath, relaxes you and allows the day to melt away. While doing this, listen to music, read, even watching a movie while relaxing.
2. Foot Reflexology Massages! This is one of my faves! They are an hour-long massage, and if you find the right place, they are only $30, and its heaven! You’d be surprised that certain points in your feet are connected to other parts of your body, thus the reason why this is a good self-care.
3. Spiritually, you can spend time with your Higher Power, and this can be a method of self-care. If you are quiet and you are spending time through prayer or meditation or anything, that’s self-care all day.
4. Reading (which I used to do often) can be great. Read a chapter out of a book each night. Dedicate yourself to this simple self-care act by stating, “I will read one chapter each night before bed.” (Oh, and yes, I just basically gave myself that dedication, thanks for the idea, lol!)
5. Painting is relaxing as well. I love to paint, and I never paint. One of my goals for 2018 was to paint once a month, to equal 12 paintings in 2018. Ask me how many I have painted thus far…. If you guessed zero, then you are right!
6. Writing, whether it be blogging, journaling, poetry, etc… Writing can be a great tool for release. Whether you like to talk about your feelings and/or problems or if you don’t, writing them out can be a great personal release.
7. Working Out/Exercising are good endorphins, and if you struggle with your body, this is a plus! Self-Care and getting sexy, lol!
8. Dating. Whether your date is with yourself (which everyone should date themselves!), date with someone you like, or love, or are in a relationship with, or even a date with your kiddos if you have them. This is a good method of self-care as well.
There are so many more methods of self-care than what I have listed, and its honestly up to you to find the ones you like and the ones that work for you! Self-care is so vital and important! Self-care is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated, meaning YOU must want it and YOU must do it! It’s simple. Like I’ve mentioned before, self-care can be for any and everybody. The most powerful relationship that you will ever have is a relationship with yourself. That’s why I’ve said that self-care and self-love are the best! So, remember to try and implement self-care into your life. It’s not just for the Mental Health or Medical fields, but its for everyone because you must take care of you.
Anger took over my life. I say that because my anger used to be so out of control that I could not handle it. It hurt my relationships, it hurt my job, it hurt me. When I got angry, I would start shaking, my breath would get fast , and I felt out of control. Thankfully, with some hard work, I now control my anger instead of the other way around. I’ve been able to recognize that I cannot control what angers me, but I can control what I do with my anger. The first step for me was to understand it. I asked myself these three questions about my anger:
1. How does it feel like in my body?
2. What do I see?
3. What does it help me do?
Furthermore, I needed to understand how this was negatively affecting my life. I took a survey of the effects of my anger on my life:
*Damages my relationships
*Costs me money
*Hurts my health
*Feeling out of control
*Damages my career
Finally, I changed the way I thought about my life and the events that happened. Emotions, all emotions are valid and natural responses to certain events. However, feelings do not excuse inappropriate behaviors. Respect is a must, respect for self and respect for others. I was able to process underlying unhelpful beliefs about life, which has led me to my passion to help others with the same!
Contact Ashelei today for help with your anger!