Ethics, Self-Care And Burnout Prevention

Hosted by Dr Dawn Elise Snipes on 11th July, 2019

Paulo Coehlo’s quote, “When you say ‘yes’ to others make sure you are not saying ‘no’ to yourself,” summarizes the theme of this webinar. Over and over again, ethics and self-care need to constantly be at the top of our to-do lists otherwise our productivity in any business will be compromised. We need to intentionally and deliberately pursue behaviours that not only match our moral codes but those that promote our well-being too. Burnout is associated with suboptimal care and reduced mental and physical health care. It was first spotted among those in the “helping profession” but it is now also reported among workers and other professionals who develop depression-like symptoms often due to stress-related to their vocational roles.

Some signs and symptoms include physical and emotional exhaustion, insomnia, impaired concentration or memory loss, physical symptoms e.g. hypertension, absence of positive emotions, substance use, cynicism, lack of resilience/patience and forgoing important personal activities. Consequently, this impacts one’s health, their interaction with customers, co-workers and family, their attitude and general life satisfaction. The causes of burnout maybe and are not limited to excessive workload, emotionally draining work, lack of support, resources, rewards or control, unclear or ever-changing requirements, pessimism and perfectionism, value conflict, reluctance to delegate, high achieving type A personality, work-life imbalance and unpleasant working environment. Malasch Burnout Inventory (MBI) is commonly used for self-assessment exploring three components: exhaustion, depersonalization and personal achievement.

There are individual and system strategies that may aid to curb burnout: periodic self-assessment, enforcing realistic boundaries, mindfulness and meditation, healthy breaks and exercises, journaling, planning and to-do lists, practicing deliberate gratitude, being aware of personal negative feelings towards certain clients, identifying what upsets you about them and appreciating that it may not mean you are bad- remember all behavior is a form of communication. Organizations and institutions need to: grant their employees paid time off, increase staff capacity and provide a reasonable workload for each, organize frequent retreats, improve communication, perform efficiency audits, ensure proper work-life boundaries are maintained, increase staff input on changes and decisions and have an efforts-reward balance. 

It is good to note that burnout occurs through stages: honeymoon, onset of stress, chronic stress, burnout and habitual burnout. When one is self-aware, they can notice unusual changes in their body or environment and rectify them before burnout becomes habitual.  Burnout work environments are a reality but burnout doesn’t have to be.

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