Staving off burnout
Already singed? Use these strategies to find new energy and tackle your work feeling renewed and refreshed.
May 01, 2005
I felt disjointed and disconnected from those I cared about most. My life was out of balance and nearly out of control. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, I was exhausted.
The pain of burnout became so intense that I started abusing alcohol and drugs in an effort to make it through another day. I even contemplated suicide before I finally realized veterinary practice didn't need to be so hard and unrewarding. In fact, life itself didn't need to be such a struggle. I finally sought help and turned my practice—and my life—around.
Of course, the choices you make to realign your life may be different. Think through your options with these strategies.
STOP the cycle of stress Step back, Think, Organize your thoughts, and then Proceed. Taking such STOPs regularly gives you an opportunity to recover from stresses that build up at work. Unfortunately, as Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz point out in their book The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal (Free Press, 2005), most of us approach our work and lives like a marathon runner rather than a sprinter. Many people just keep running, instead of running and then resting, so it's no wonder many of us burnout before we reach the finish line.
Finally, make sure you build in vacation time. A vacation lets you truly get away from work for rest and relaxation. Trust me, it's worth the hassle to organize that time away.
Try doing less Many practitioners aren't naturally gifted at delegation, so they end up trying to do everything, including paperwork, scheduling, and payroll. While these detail-oriented tasks need to be done, you don't necessarily need to do them yourself. Someone who enjoys the work—and is therefore better equipped to do the tasks—would be a better choice.