As a counselor, I am no stranger to burnout. It happens to the best of us. Over time, clients, workload, and life just wear you down until you reach a breaking point.
Over the last two weeks, the all too familiar feeling dawned on me. Waking up, I had little to no motivation to get out of bed. Once I got out of bed, fibromyalgia pain pulsed through my limbs, usually a result from high levels of stress. I felt on edge and ready to snap on the next person who got under my skin. I retreated to my bed. It was my little safe haven to avoid any potential conflict or further stress. I would lie down in hopes that when I woke up that it would be a fresh start. Since my brain could not stop moving however, I only slept a few hours at a time. Now I am stressed, sleep deprived, and irritable. Such a great combo (Please note my sarcasm).
I started making stupid mistakes at work. I did not follow through on basic self-care like diet, exercise, and sleep. Any inkling of conflict immediately sent me into a spiral of self-doubt and guilt. This was classic burnout.
What made it harder was that my typical emotional outlets to recharge were unavailable. I often relied heavy on my work to fulfill that emotional void, but I struggled to find that connection with my clients. My friends and family went through similar burnout and stress over the last few weeks. Therefore, when I reached out to them, I mostly fell into the counselor role anyhow. In the past, I reached out to my dad when I felt like this, and he would have the words to get me back on track. That option disappeared when he passed away in October.
I saw an article on Forbes that really drove the point home.
Feel free to check it out, but it validated my feelings. I spoke to my therapist who agreed. She reiterated what I already knew- I need a break. Sometimes you just have to take a break from it all to prevent the inevitable. I made it a concrete goal to give myself at least an hour each day dedicated to self-care. It could be playing video games, going for a walk, seeing a friend, writing, etc., but the time was for me and only me. I also booked a three-day getaway to a little bed and breakfast for myself. I will be using it as an opportunity to recharge and bring myself back to reality.
Self-care is of the utmost importance during these crazy times. We truly need to be at our best when the time comes. In order to do that, take care of you too.
-The Caring Counselor