The 6 types of Self Care to prevent burnout for young helping professionals
During these times, it is critical we find time for self-care. We’re currently living through two major historic evens. One is the pandemic and the other is the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Because of this, we’re constantly being exposed to difficult conversations and imagery. This can be extremely draining on your physical, mental, and emotional health which can lead to burnout.
Burnout is a state of chronic stress that leads to mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion. This is often caused by the idea that “I can do everything” or having a fear of asking for help. People suffering from burnout feel lethargic, empty, and powerless. It is usually caused by being overworked and undervalued at your job, caretaking, parenting, etc. I know that sounds like most of us.
In social work and helping professions, this often happens to someone that thinks they can “save everyone.” Someone who takes on extra jobs and works long hours without taking their breaks. Workers who don’t use their sick and vacation days because they don’t to want to let their team down. We’ve all been there.. Burnout happens over time and it completely preventable.
Making self-care a priority is not easy. Juggling work, school, and my internship full time, I can’t remember a time I wasn’t exhausted. By the time I get home, feed myself, and do some homework, I barely have time to catch up on some social media before bed. Let’s not talk about the days I have a class or have a community meeting. I have to use the combination of my physical planner and google calendar to keep track of my time. Most of the time I feel like a chicken running around with my head cut off.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the routine of going to work or school then going to bed with nothing in between. Working in any helping profession is stressful and sometimes draining. The stories we hear and the things we see can be hard for anyone to deal with on a regular basis. After a long day at work, you need a way to decompress.
This is why it is so important that you have a self-care routine. You need to get into the habit of finding time to take care of yourself. What’s the saying? You have to put your life jacket on before you can help someone else.
What are the symptoms of Burnout?
Some signs and symptoms of burnout are:
- Increased illness
- High blood pressure
- Frequent headaches or muscle pain
- Emotional exhaustion
- Increased irritability
- Lack of motivation
- Poor job performance
- Reduced productivity
- Detachment and withdrawing from responsibilities
There is no perfect way to do self-care. We all have different schedules and find different things relaxing. Soaking in the tub might work for some but some of us don’t have the time.. or don’t even have a tub. Don’t let that detour you from making a self-care routine.
Getting into a set routine will also save you a lot of time. At night I can spend more time fitting in one more episode of whatever show on Netflix I’m currently watching and I can even sleep in longer in the morning. Plus, it sets aside time for me and gets me the most value of my limited time.
These are the 6 types of self-care and examples of each kind.
1. Physical self-care:
These activities help you improve your physical well being.
- Sleep. This is the thing I am most terrible at. I have been cursed with being a night owl but unfortunately have to wake up early every day for work. The recommended amount of sleep for adults, 26 to 64 years old, is 6 to 10 hours.
The effects of sleep deprivation are:
- Fatigue and irritability
- Impaired brain activity, learning, and memory problems
- Reduced creativity and problem-solving skills
- Weakened immune system and increased risk of accidents
Getting a full night’s sleep helps you stay alert, boosts memory, and always your body to repair the damage.
- Drink water. Not much to say here. Just do it. It’ll have your skin clear and glowing.
- Skin Care Routine. The older I get the more stress and lack of sleep shows on the bags under my eyes. It might seem like the 7 step nightly routine isn’t making me better looking but you just watch. I still get carded and I’m almost thirty. It is sooo important to remove your makeup and wash your face. IF YOU DO NOTHING ELSE, please do that.
- Take a bath. My goal is to do this at least once a week. I try to soak in the tub (you can add a book, wine, candles, and low r&b if that’s your thing). After a long week, this relieves stress and tension in your muscles. If you don’t have a bathtub or can’t make time for one, a hot shower will do. If you go to the gym maybe you can hop in the sauna.
2. Mental self-care:
These activities help stimulate your mind.
- Go somewhere without your phone. We spend so much time with our faces stuck in our phones. I know I am the worst at this. It’s not until you finally put your phone down that you can see life happening around you. Plus people watching is hella fun. Suggestions: WALMART for some good laughs.
- Learning something new. What time than the present to learn a new skill or hobby. This could be learning that language you started in high school but never really practiced.
- Reading a book.I love you read. Now that I’m back in school, it isn’t something I get to do for fun very often. But there’s nothing better than laying on the couch with a warm drink in your hand reading a book. I’ve actually reread all of my favorites at least 4 times (I love anything with vampires, witches, werewolves, you name it).
3. Emotional self-care:
These are activities that help you process or express your emotions in a healthy way.
- Seeing a therapist. There is still a huge stigma on seeing a therapist but your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Everyone can benefit from talking to someone.
- Cuddle with your pet. This is one of my favorites. You can’t be sad while snuggling your puppy or kitty cat.
- Meditation. I don’t get around to it every day but I try to do it multiple times a week. I do this at night or in the morning. I prefer to do this at night. I find it is the perfect way to unwind before I go to sleep. I can’t turn off my anxiety long enough to meditate but if you prefer this go for it. I usually YouTube a nigh time yoga routine before I go to bed.
4. Practical self-care:
These are activities you do to maintain core aspects of your life to prevent future stressful situations.
- Make a todo list. Take it from someone who has suffered from anxiety since I was a child. Nothing makes me feel better than writing down everything I need to do and being able to visually cross them off. I have one for daily, short term, and long term goals. I cannot count how many times a day I check it.
- Meal prep. Because eating is my favorite part of the day and I am terrible at adulting. This stops me from not taking a lunch if I am running late or if you literally plan your morning routine by the second like me. I also use this time to prep my fruit smoothie or overnight oats for breakfast which is literally the only way I eat breakfast. I know at this point in my life if I don’t plan out and prep my meals I’ll end up eating fast food for lunch and dinner.
- Pick out tomorrow’s outfit. I used to spend so much time in the morning trying on multiple outfits & checking all my angles. Doing it at night gives me time to turn on my music & play dress up in my closet (trying on things I never have an excuse to wear). This is also a good time to iron your clothes if you’re into that type of thing (I don’t even remember where mine is).
- Professional development. Improving knowledge or skills to invest in yourself to increase professional achievements. This can be continuing education, reading articles, taking a class, finding a mentor in your field, joining professional organizations, etc. Improving knowledge or skills to invest in yourself to increase professional achievements.
*Professional development tip – always dress for the job you want. I can’t recall how many times I’ve been pulled into a meeting last minute and was able to do some networking. Looking the part won’t only allow for people to take you more serious it also is a great confidence booster.
- Use vacation days. I’m so passionate about my job and furthering my career I used to feel I couldn’t take any days off. I still find myself feel guilty and do my best to take a Friday & Monday off. Regardless of how you do it, just make sure you do.
I make sure to plan a week-long vacation at least once I year with my best friend to completely log off. Last year it was Florida for my bday/Christmas and the year before it was Vegas/San Diego for New Year (got to go to Disney both times). It is so easy to get burnout working in helping professions. After a nice vacation, I always come back missing my coworkers/clients energized and ready to help save some lives.
5. Spiritual self-care:
These activities help nurture your soul.
- Yoga. This is def what I look like any time I try to do yoga. But it’s something about spending time with yourself and for yourself that always makes us feel better.
- Spending time in nature. Go for a hike or spend the weekend camping. If you can’t find time to do that or those aren’t for you, just go outside. Sit on your porch or take your shoes off and put your feet in the grass.
- Practice forgiveness. Sometimes forgiveness is the hardest thing to do. Sometimes they don’t even ask for it and even when they do, they don’t always deserve it. It took me years to realize forgiveness isn’t about the other person, it’s about ourselves. You spend so much time pent up reliving what happened and plotting your revenge.. half the time they aren’t even thinking about you and have already moved on. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you forget but do yourself a favor and move on.
6. Social self-care:
These activities give you time to enjoy and connect with others.
- Having a date night.This could be something that you have time for weekly or you might only be able to fit it in once a month. But it’s important that you take a break from your busy lives to go out or stay in and spend time with your partner or significant other.
- Having a girl’s night. This is probably one of my favorite forms of self-care. Whenever I’ve been super busy and stressed out this always makes me feel better. It can be a night getting Mexican food & margaritas, going out dancing, or staying in ordering food & watching movies. Also, men can do this too. My male and nonbinary friends are always invited or could have a night of their own.
- Having a pen pal. This doesn’t have to be old school with a pen and paper.. although, it could be. There are so many webistes you can use to find someone. You could even join a FB group and make friends to keep in contact with.
But trust me, I am far from perfect. Sometimes I get caught up with work & school and don’t have time for all of these. Every now and then I don’t make it to the grocery and end up eating fast food every day for a week (this has happened more than once).
It doesn’t have to be all of this. The important thing is that you find something that works for you. You have to take care of yourself before you can help others. We’ve all seen coworkers or fellow students who are burnt out and you don’t want that to be you.
This isn’t going to solve all your problems but I give you this information so that you can find out what works best for you. Let me know what you like to do for self-care.
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