I opened a book on Burnout a couple of weeks ago and on the third page in, I read the line “among medical professionals, burnout can be as high as 52%.” I was a little shocked but not surprised. I hear anecdotally, and frequently how difficult healthcare professionals are finding their work. Our work is tough. We give a lot of ourselves when we work with people who are unwell every day. This book goes on to describe the human giver syndrome in which people are expected to offer their time, attention, affection, and bodies willingly, placidly to the human beings. Women belong to this category and make up most of the healthcare workforce (Nagoski & Nagoski, 2020).
What can we do to help? Well in the words of one of my heroes Brene Brown “I will talk to myself the same way I talk to people I love.”
Taking care of everyone else except our own individual souls leads to burnout, fatigue, hurtful words and behaviours. What are you doing to take care of yourself? Ask yourself this question often.
According to Kristen Neff the concept of self-compassion has been put forth as a healthy alternative to both self-criticism and high self-esteem and has been conceptualized as consisting of self-kindness, mindfulness, and common humanity (Neff, 2003). Below I outline what she means in this statement.
Self-kindness involves extending understanding, patience, and benevolence to the self, especially in difficult times;
Common humanity refers to a sense in which one is connected to others in and even through one's suffering, as suffering is in fact common to all human beings;
And mindfulness involves holding painful experiences in awareness (that is, not denying or distracting from them) but at a distance so that one does not become overly identified with them.
Now a little extra to add in here:
Do to others as you would want others to do to you
Compassion is a necessity, not a luxury “The Dali Lama “
And lastly use these valuable techniques to build your self compassion each day:
Befriending yourself - Support yourself through a difficulty as you would a close friend.
Meditate – change your brain
Learn to say No
Connection – spend time with friends and people that build you up.
Limit time on distraction devices.