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Avoiding Burnout as a Mental Health Professional

Reverend Paul Parks shares some tips for avoiding burnout while working in the mental health field.

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Being a therapist is one of the most mentally taxing jobs one can choose to have. Intently listening to patients’ struggles and innermost thoughts can be an emotionally overwhelming burden to carry. At some point, it is only natural that therapists may experience burnout.

Firstly, this is not anything to be ashamed of. Even if you have an intense passion for your role and consider yourself a mental health advocate, there is no shame in having to take a step back to work on your own mental health and refuel yourself. 

Secondly, you may not even realize you are experiencing burnout. If you are finding yourself ending sessions early, daydreaming while your client is speaking, or tossing and turning at night thinking about a client’s unsolvable issue, these may be signs that you need to refresh yourself. If you wish to steer clear of or lessen the chances of this happening, continue reading for some valuable tips on avoiding burnout as a therapist.

Have a Work-Life Balance

The easiest way for therapists to avoid feeling exhausted from their job is to leave work at work. It can be so easy to think about your sessions the rest of the evening, but you must do everything in your power to take your mind off it. Try not to bring paperwork home or think about how to solve your clients’ issues while you’re supposed to be off the clock. Make an effort to distract yourself with a hobby, hosting a gathering with friends, or unwinding with a favorite television show of yours. If you find yourself thinking about your clients and sessions at home, do your best to push those thoughts aside as soon as they arise. It is good to care about your clients, but overextending yourself will quickly lead to emotional fatigue. 

Take Mini-Breaks Throughout the Day

Dealing with heavy topics after heavy topics can negatively affect your own mental health if you are not recharging in between sessions.  While it is good to genuinely care for your clients, you must take the time to refuel yourself, especially since you spend your days giving of yourself to others. During your time at work, you should take your time between sessions to reenergize yourself. Even if it’s just a ten-minute break, it is critical that you take this short time to recharge for your next client. You can stretch, take a brief walk around the office or even grab a coffee if you have the time. This is a great way to decompress in order to give the next patient your best attention. 

Stick to a Healthy Lifestyle

As a therapist, you should know the impacts that your lifestyle has on your overall mental health. Since you know all the tips and tricks to live a more bountiful life, make sure you follow your own advice and take care of yourself. Make sure you stick to a good sleep schedule, get exercise throughout the week and eat foods that make you feel good about yourself. Nevertheless, you should also make sure to reward yourself with some desserts every so often. 

It is necessary to follow these practices to ensure you are not growing mentally exhausted. However, remember it is not anything to be ashamed of if you do find yourself in this position. Simply take a step back and follow these steps to ensure you bounce back quickly from burnout.

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