Job, Caregiver, & Safety Burnout

“That which is to give light must endure burning.” -Viktor Frankl

  • Do you feel that your work, relationship, or passion asks too much from you, more than you can possibly give?
  • Have you become emotionally and physically exhausted with it?
  • Do you feel strangely detached from this passion or important activity at times? Detached from yourself or others?
  • Do you feel you are accomplishing less, or have been told so?

Those are signs of burnout. The treatment of burnout is most often linked to ‘stress management’ if your condition does not include trauma aspects. However, taking a break from work and learning how to breathe correctly or meditate—while both quite helpful and useful—may not be enough to ward off the next round of burnout. Sometimes you need a professional, compassionate co-processor to save resources and provide new ones. Then, you can grow more resources and let go of any dead weight. There are some things that are best in a relational framework, rather than trying to continue pushing through, alone.

Job, caregiver, safety burnout: backing away from breaking points

If you answered ‘yes’ to many of the above questions related to burnout, you might consider if some or many of the following are also true:

–You are in a profession in which you are frequently exposed to actual or recalled frightening and upsetting events. Or, you might be caring for someone and frequently dealing with related, upsetting situations. If so…

  • Do you find lately that your work is resonating with prior traumatic events or emotional wounds from previous years?
  • Do you have symptoms like trauma but cannot point to one specific event that was a direct threat to your life? However, you can point to frequent, indirect exposure to upsetting events or narratives?
  • Trauma-like symptoms here can include:
    • Body reactivity and edginess, including poor sleep, tension, inhibited sexuality
    • Easy alarm  (jumpiness, quick to over-prepare)
    • Habitual mistrust or over-watchfulness lately
    • Intrusive memories or dreams about things you experienced indirectly (or directly)
    • Feeling less sense of hope or future
    • Avoidance, such as calling in, using more vacation, becoming inefficient, etc.

The above items are signs of a more intense type of burnout like a ‘secondary’ or ‘vicarious’ trauma.

This is also known as ‘Compassion Fatigue’, but some members of the public find that term objectionable or harder to digest. To many, ‘Compassion Fatigue’ comes across as ‘You’re tired of caring’. What I am talking about here is ‘You’re overwhelmed from caring’.

Talk to someone for job, artistic, caregiver, safety burnout: it is real

In these stress- and trauma-related areas, just like other areas, I find a solid and trusting psychotherapy relationship must be established first. Especially in this area, we can get tempted to jump straight to activities. If you are in a position of burnout or compassion fatigue, your internal resources feel drained and it may be hard to stand up to immunization with the ‘same emotional toxins in lower doses’. So before upping the ante or jumping right back in, remember you will need help to rebuild internal resources. I press forward only cautiously, which is a match for more intense cases of burnout.

Your job, relationship, or vocational passion rushes and pushes enough already

You might have been directly or unconsciously taught that you are inadequate if you cannot go along and keep pushing, all the time. This is not true. Keying into a supportive and openly searching therapy gets two minds processing events and needs–with one of those minds from outside the difficult situation. That is a good position to be in before getting back to ‘doing more’. More importantly, if you are in a position where you must continue the work while getting treated, this sort of relational stability will help you bear continued exposures while building more capacity.

You can regain resilience through stress and managing burnout

If you suspect you are experiencing any of these types of burnout, do not hesitate to call or email me (both are secure).

Please note: If you have stated on a workers’ compensation claim that burnout or a trauma has caused a workplace psychological injury, I cannot treat you privately. My private office in Claremont is not listed on workers’ comp insurances. So, if this comes up, I can guide you to the industrial process.

For more on my therapy style, see here and here. For a page about telehealth / online therapy go here.