Burnout is characterized by feeling emotionally depleted or drained and can result after a period of long-term, work related stress. There are three key aspects to burnout which you may experience in varying degrees.
Most healthcare providers enter the field with the intent to help others and provide empathic care for patients with critical physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. Healthcare providers, however, can be impacted by the continuing stress of meeting the often overwhelming needs of patients and their families which may result in compassion fatigue.
Although there are risks to those working in the helping field, there are also rewards and benefits that come from this work. Compassion satisfaction is the positive consequence of helping behavior. Compassion satisfaction is the pleasure you derive from helping, positive feelings we have for colleagues and a good feeling resulting from the ability to assist others and make a contribution.
Moral distress occurs when healthcare workers in humanitarian settings recognize the appropriate action to take but are unable to act accordingly. Moral distress occurs when healthcare workers must act in ways that are contrary to their personal and professional values, thereby undermining their sense of personal integrity and authenticity.
Healthcare workers often face long-term chronic stress including witnessing suffering, extensive working hours, shift work, exposure to traumatic stories, and challenging working conditions. As a result, they are at risk for compassion fatigue, burnout, secondary traumatic stress and moral distress.
Secondary traumatic stress (STS) refers to the distress and emotional disruption resulting from continued and cumulative contact, or after single exposure, with individuals who have directly experienced trauma. Work that involves witnessing a great deal of suffering, either by observing or listening to narratives of trauma, can result in lasting emotional distress to health workers.
All of us can experience moments of sleep disturbance or problems sleeping well for a variety of reasons including stressful events during the day, anxiety problems, trouble at work or in our private life.
Many people in caring professions, including healthcare professionals, struggle to set boundaries between work and personal life. However, without good boundaries that give our bodies and minds a chance to rest, the resulting overwork and boundless emotional investment can impact our bodies, minds and relationships negatively.
When we start to feel anxious, upset or uncomfortable, our breathing is one of the first things that changes. It usually becomes faster, shallower and less smooth.
An amazing ability that may be unique to humans is the ability to think about our own thinking. This ability gives us some powerful tools for managing the ways we respond to distressing and exhausting experiences, including our work.
Grounding is set of helpful strategies that can be utilized when we are feeling overwhelmed or in distress. Grounding helps to reorient the mind and body, bringing you back into the present moment where you can experience a current state of safety and move away from symptoms of distress.
Occasionally, people that have been exposed to traumatic stories might have intrusive thoughts, which are distressing ideas and memories that suddenly and unexpectedly come to mind and trigger a response of fear, worry, or grief.
This handout will guide you through the principles and practice of mindfulness.
Nightmares are a common problem for trauma survivors. Along with flashbacks and unwanted memories, nightmares are one of the ways in which a trauma survivor may relive the trauma for months or years after the event.
Our bodies and brains communicate with each other through chemical and electric signals. This means that when we feel stressed our muscles can tense up. The tension in our muscles then sends signals back to our brains that they are tense, which can increase our level of mental stress. We can break this cycle in the mind using mindfulness, visualization or grounding exercises, or we can break it in the body with exercises like breathing, stretches or progressive muscle relaxation (PMR).
We can break the cycle of muscular tension and anxiety by paying attention to our posture and stretching our bodies.
Visualization is a useful technique for breaking your stress cycle in your mind when your physical surroundings are contributing to your feelings of stress. Visualization gives you a break from your present setting, and with it, your present emotional state. There are many visualizations that you can do; in this handout we will discuss three simple techniques to get you started.