Risk of burnout


Hello coaches. In addition to my private work, I work in a public sector clinic 3 days per week. Even in normal times, my job is demanding, busy, and deals with a high-risk and complex caseload, but it’s much more now. Because of the pandemic, we have lost staff due to burnout and other reasons. Like most public sector teams in my country, we are under lots of strain that has accumulated in the last 2 years.

The biggest change I’ve experienced in the recent time in my job is that the fear/risk of a client dying is very high on my mind and persecuting me. In the past, I felt much more contained with a strong, rested, effective team so was able to feel safe in doing my tasks and accept the risks involved. Now my team is so depleted. I can see how my colleagues are, I also know how many left – that the fear of a client dying is there on the front of my mind, paralyzing me. Both with thoughts of me being accused (which can be awful and does happen in the public sector, with extensive inquests) but also with thoughts about the clients and how I would feel if I knew our practice wasn’t safe.

I would like some of this description of events to be in the Circumstance line because I have no doubt it’s happening. It’s been widely documented in the news & we can see with hard numbers how much staff we are hemorrhaging. So I want to keep it in the Circumstance line, though I want to work on describing what’s going on more factually, to be able to ‘handle’ it better, as I can see my descriptions are filled with my feelings about the facts. As you can imagine, I have lots of emotions (grief, overwhelm, stress, fear)  with the situation & from time to time I work on it in my journaling. I want to avoid burnout as I have seen it happen repeatedly to colleagues and also because I love my job & have chosen it carefully. I feel it would be a real shame if I left abruptly, both for me and for my colleagues & clients.

Today is a day I work in the clinic & I had dark thoughts this morning & a feeling of dread with the idea of going in. I worked on the following models.

Model on Unintentional Thought
C: situation at my public sector clinic: understaffing – we used to have 15 colleagues, we are now at 7 and recently there was no expression of interest for advertised posts
T: I am not able to do my job safely however much I try & even though it’s not the fault of staff, clients accuse us more and more which I take personally despite knowing it’s not personal
F: highly distressed
A: ruminate ‘what if something terrible happens, what if someone dies due to our lack of a safe approach’ (a real possibility in my line of work)
stuck in inaction at times due to overwhelm
communicate at times with colleagues from my team and other agencies in ineffective ways
not allocate time to long term projects that can nurture me & can further our team, instead put all efforts in immediate ‘fire fighting’
I push myself to ‘plan myself out of the situation’ – spend much more time than Monday Hour One planning & re-planning yet my tasks cannot fit as we don’t have enough staff and my caseload is too high – this creates stress
Ending up resenting my clinic work & forgetting the reasons I’ve chosen to work there 3 days a week
repeatedly ask myself: what if we don’t get staff and it’s always like this?
R: creating a situation of burnout

Model on Intentional Thought
C: situation at my public sector clinic: understaffing – we used to have 15 colleagues, we are now 7 and recently there was no expression of interest for advertised posts
T: I radically accept the situation I’m in and remind myself it’s not a mountain to be climbed altogether, it’s decisions, one after the other, hour by hour, minute by minute
F: self caring
A: morning journaling times really help
time with family protected
rest times protected
focus on explaining my actions & decisions in writing during this time. Cover my back. Talk to colleagues. This is counter-intuitive (more paperwork rather than clinical work) but at the moment it’s necessary
when emotionally pushed to say something – wait, think, reflect. Don’t speak most times.
remind myself I can always leave or if I stay I need to be clearer about reasons under these circumstances
remind myself someone could always die in my line of work: it’s not just now
do one thing at a time.
Don’t overpack my schedule as it never works
R looking after myself as a priority during a difficult time at work