Regarding Burnout, Compassion Fatigue and Wellness

A Therapist Facilitated Support Group for Activists, Social Service Folk, Educators, etc. in Olympia, WA


Resources, etc.
The Four Stages of Burnout
by Mark Gorkin, MSW, LICSW, "The Stress Doc"
"Years ago, a magicaI moment whirled me in a mystical web. I was consumed by the path of "academic flashdancing." I succumbed to the "burnout tango." Now let me not just walk the talk, but deromance the dance: "Burnout is the gradual process by which a person, in response to prolonged stress and physical, mental and emotional strain, detaches from work and other meaningful relationships. The result is lowered productivity, cynicism, confusion...a feeling of being drained, having nothing more to give." Whether at work or school (or even in a marriage), to prevent it you must get it. To provide a framework both for understanding and, hopefully, inoculating against future burnout, let's begin with "The Stress Doc's Vital Lesson of the Four 'R's":

"If no matter what you say or what you do, Results, Rewards, Recognition and Relief are not forthcoming, and you can't mean "no" or won't let go...trouble awaits. The groundwork is being laid for apathy, callousness and despair.

"Have I captured your attention? Let's examine some of the progressive signs of being caught up in this erosive spiral."

Dealing With or Preventing Burnout in Activist Work
by Neil Wollman - from Activist Trauma Support (UK based)
"... hints focus on actions or mental attitudes you can cultivate to prevent or deal with burnout (whose symptoms include irritability, feelings of hopelessness/helplessness/cynicism, non-enjoyment of activities enjoyed in the past, difficulty in making decisions, inability to stay focussed, and fatigue or other physical effects). There are, of course, various societal and organizational factors that will impact strongly on whether burnout will develop, be it particular world crises or a workplace culture that discourages taking days off after high stress periods. Though you may be far removed, physically, from a world crisis, you can potentially help create a work environment more conducive to positive mental health."

Also from Activist Trauma Support:
No Borders: Thoughts on guilt, shame & trauma (pdf file)
      Includes: Coping techniques and personal borders
      and:
What to do if you think your colleagues are burning-out
             or cracking up.


"Many of the people who have been involved in No Borders work appear to be suffering from a complex mixture of guilt, shame and "low level accumulative" trauma. On top of this, some are also in a state of denial about their own symptoms, and if they do recognise any symptoms they do not think they should be ''allowed'' to have them. This is all very similar to activists' experiences in Palestine and other conflict zones."


and see: Other Documents from Activist Trauma Support


Compassion Fatigue, Physician Burnout and Your Emotional Bank Account
by Dike Drummond MD, TheHappyMD.com
"For anyone in the helping professions, Compassion Fatigue is a common occurrence. Here is the origin of compassion fatigue, its relationship to physician burnout and what you can do when you recognize it in yourself."


Preventing Burnout - Signs, Symptoms, Causes, and Coping Strategies
by Melinda Smith, M.A., Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Robert Segal, M.A. - Helpguide.org
"Burnout may be the result of unrelenting stress, but it isn't the same as too much stress. Stress, by and large, involves too much: too many pressures that demand too much of you physically and psychologically. Stressed people can still imagine, though, that if they can just get everything under control, they'll feel better.

"Burnout, on the other hand, is about not enough. Being burned out means feeling empty, devoid of motivation, and beyond caring. People experiencing burnout often don't see any hope of positive change in their situations. If excessive stress is like drowning in responsibilities, burnout is being all dried up. One other difference between stress and burnout: While you're usually aware of being under a lot of stress, you don't always notice burnout when it happens."

The burnt-out generation: Desperate to hold it together, they push themselves to the limit at work AND at home until they explode under the strain
by Tanith Carey, July 13, 2011 - DailyMail, UK
" 'Burn-out is a disorder of hope. It sucks the life out of competent, hard-working people. You lose motivation and vitality,' says Dr Borysenko, a Harvard-trained scientist and psychologist."
The Art of Surviving Compassion Fatigue: A Multidimensional Approach
by Rachel Mann, PhD - May 22, 2008
"Many of us may have jobs in which we are confronted with these realities on a daily basis. Or we may be dealing with aging parents, with the challenges of illness in ourselves and others, or with the death of loved ones. It is so true, as Gautama Buddha said 2,500 years ago that suffering is common to all. And perhaps more than ever, we are asked to be a witness to it.

"In the face of this much suffering, we may find ourselves feeling burned out, depressed, angry, frustrated, and helpless. Particularly if we are in the role of a helper, friend or family member of those who have been traumatized in the past or are currently dealing with such situations, we may be particularly susceptible to developing a deep feeling of compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue is a term coined by Charles R. Figley, a psychiatrist who has specialized in the naming, diagnosis and cure of Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS). He has defined it as follows:

" 'We can define STS as the natural consequent behaviors and emotions resulting from knowing about a traumatizing event experienced by a significant other–the stress resulting from helping or wanting to help a traumatized or suffering person' " (Figley, 1993).

 

 

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