Burnout prevention is a topic that seems to go unnoticed. If we want to be healthy then preventing burnout is key. The question is how best to go about burnout prevention.
Well, like most things related to health, the answer is–it’s different for everyone. The study of stress shows that we all respond to stress differently. Knowing more about how you respond to stress will carry you closer to knowing your own best strategy or strategies.First let’s look at the different levels of prevention: primary, secondary and tertiary.
Primary Burnout Prevention
Primary prevention occurs prior to the onset of any burnout symptoms. This kind of prevention comes in the form of counseling about coping with stress and considering what stresses uplift you versus those that are more difficult for you. Think public service announcements.
Secondary Burnout Prevention
Secondary prevention comes when an individual arrives at some awareness of symptoms by happenstance. This is what happened when I visited my healthcare providers for usual check ups and found that I had several stress related issues. I was completely unaware of these symptoms until being seen by my healthcare providers. They were able to pick up on these symptoms and inform me. Think a kind of stress surprise.
Tertiary Burnout Prevention
Tertiary prevention is a process of keeping known illness from causing lasting damage through rehabilitation and prevention of relapse. I was engaging in this type of prevention when I made decisions concerning my work/life balance that subsequently addressed the symptoms that came to light in secondary prevention. Think total behavior change at this stage.
Role of Emotions
Looking at your emotion management can help you look at your burnout potential. One of the most beneficial emotions when addressing stress is confidence. Feeling confident that you can effect change in your environment cognitively, physically, and socially can go along way toward inoculating you against stress.
How can this be? Because, when stress arrives (as it always will), feeling confident within yourself that you can make meaningful change will serve to decrease the stress you feel. On the flip side if you are certain that nothing you do will effect change or help you will be left in despair.
Challenging your thinking helps you build new skills. Building new skills helps you address all kinds of stress more effectively. This process is not one we enjoy, but at some point we need to do something different. One of my mentors used to repeat the adage, “If you want something different to happen, you have to do something different.” You can review challenging your thinking here.
Questioning Around Stress
How do you find that different? Sometimes asking yourself a few questions can be helpful. Questioning the situation and your part in it will help you to shift your stress. Here are a few questions to get you started.
- Which of my needs have been neglected?
- Which of my abilities remain underdeveloped?
- Which of my objectives are unrealistic?
- Which of my thinking patterns are dysfunctional?
- What in my environment is a burden?
- Are there things I don’t know about the things I find stressful?
- What parts are missing?
- What am I not seeing?
- Are there areas that I am avoiding?
- What one thing can I change which will result in the best outcome?
- Is there a way to reclaim a portion of my freedom/autonomy?
- What must I resolve to move forward?
Often simply answering the questions above will cause some movement in areas that may have had you stuck.