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Tag Archives for " job burnout "

Jul 07

Healthcare Professionals: 3 Keys to Preventing Burnout

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Stress , Stress Management

We don’t often think about the extreme stress that medical practitioners endure while shouldering the tremendous responsibility for the lives of their patients. Burnout and early career termination are frequent occurrences among these professionals, whether they are doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, trauma first responders, EMS professionals or emergency room staff.

Some of these medical professionals work with a population of clients whose needs are dramatic and immediate—victims of catastrophic injuries and/or those who are in overwhelming pain. As any family whose life has been turned upside down by a catastrophic injury will attest, navigating the healthcare system and coordinating the multiple aspects of care is a monumental and overwhelming undertaking. In the split second that it takes for the accident to take place, the family’s lives change dramatically and often permanently.

Dealing with catastrophic injuries and complex pain conditions necessitate a complex approach that supports not only the victim but everyone connected to the victim, every step of the way.  Successful outcomes require an extremely dedicated and professional case management team, with a laser focus on optimal medical recovery.

I am honored to be invited to keynote the 2016 Summit for a company that has taken on these challenges and has done so with an amazing track record of success.  This company, filled with unsung heroes, is Paradigm Outcomes.  Like all companies charged with taking on dramatic and often life-threatening cases, Paradigm’s teams are extremely vulnerable to burnout. Attaining optimal outcomes can have burnout side effects.  Of course, burnout is no stranger to any occupation, so the tips below apply to any industry where stress occurs simultaneously with job performance.

3 Keys to Preventing Burnout

1. Make Stress Resilience Practice a Part of Every Day

Healthcare professionals, especially those working with urgent, catastrophic cases, rarely afford themselves the time to develop stress resiliency skills.  They are so focused on the task at hand that they concentrate on providing their skills to others, neglecting themselves in the process.  Such activities as taking a brisk walk during breaks and after meals can go a long way toward calming and rebuilding mental strength.

The new rage in mental health is “mindfulness.”  You can obtain free mindfulness apps on your phone, and these relaxing exercises can attain powerful results in literally minutes.

Having a break room with relaxing chairs, calming music and pictures/posters of island paradises, pristine mountain scenes, etc., can help to melt away stress.  Being able to discuss the difficult cases with colleagues in such places can eliminate feelings of helplessness that often undermine burnout.

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2. Have Realistic Expectations

Many healthcare professionals are hard-wired with Type A personality traits.  Among those traits is the need to be perfect in everything one sets out to do.  You can imagine how such a need is self-destructive.

Healthcare professionals often go into this career field with the admirable desire to help people recover and save lives, but they will never be able to solve every issue and save every life.  You need to recognize that you can diligently diagnose, design treatment plans, consult with colleagues and treat your patients, but you will not always save them…no one can.  Moreover, a large part of “saving” patients depends on the patient being compliant with the treatment plan.  Sadly, that important ingredient is often missing.

Change your expectations to doing the best you can with the available technology and medicine, rather than feeling like a failure when patients do not recover.  Self-acceptance without judgment is an important trait for everyone to embrace.

3. Embrace SELF-Compassion

Self-acceptance involves self-compassion. Healthcare professionals are hard-wired with empathy and compassion for their patients, but all too often self-acceptance and self-compassion are missing.  Simply put, if your best friend was suffering from the stress in which you find yourself, what advice would you give to her/him?  I’m certain you would be empathic and make a myriad of healthy suggestions, but, do you ever follow the same stress-reducing prescriptions for yourself?

Treat yourself like you would advise your best friend or close relative.  Understand that it’s natural to be stressed under these circumstances.  Give yourself a break!

Another powerful suggestion is to recover your balance through the balance of others.  During the devastating bombing of Britain in WWII, the population was able to maintain their balance by identifying with the calm, not-to-worry demeanor of their leader, Winston Churchill.

Make sure there is at least one person in your life who faces and reacts to stressors very calmly.  Reach out to that person to discuss the stressors you face, and resonate with her/his calmness.  This is the essence of giving yourself permission to have self-compassion.  Our bodies have evolved to mobilize to stressors, which can be exhausting.  Absorbing the calmness of others enduring the same stressors can serve to de-activate your stress.

These are the important keys to resilience that I will share with the catastrophic event teams attending the Paradigm Outcomes Summit in October. They are some of the key ways that healthcare professionals – and indeed anyone in a stressful career – can use to prevent burnout.

Sep 10

Stress and World Class Coaches

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Elite Athletes , Stress Management

How Coaches’ Stress Impacts Elite Athletes

By Dr. Jack Singer

Stress and World Class Coaches by Dr. Jack Singer

Much attention is paid to the impact of stress on elite athletes, but until recently, the impact of stress on their coaches has been largely ignored.  What is really important about this new discovery is that the way coaches deal with their own stress directly impacts the performance of their athletes. 

The amount of stress a world class or Olympic coach experiences is a function of his/her perception of the demands (stressors) made by their job and their own ability to cope with stressors.  So much attention has been given to teaching athletes how to cope with the stressors of performing their sport,  but we now know that if their coaches do not cope, it will impact their coaching skills and ultimately, the athlete’s performance. 

World class and Olympic coaches complain about psychological, physical and behavioral responses to their stress, such as having low frustration tolerance, acting fidgety, and agitated.  These coaches complain of burnout symptoms, including mental fatigue and a sense of reduced enjoyment about their coaching roles.  This impacts their athletes, both because of the coach’s body language  and the tone of voice from the coach to the athlete.  These are both potential sources of strain for their athletes.

The solution is that professional Sport Psychologists should pay as much attention to helping coaches develop the skills and strategies needed to cope with the demands of world class coaching.  Only then will the elite athlete have the best opportunity to let his/her true talent shine.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

I am also available for phone consultations with athletes around the U.S. and in-person visits with athletes in Southern California. Call today toll free at 1-800-497-9880 for a free 20 minute telephone consultation with Dr. Jack Singer.

Jack N. Singer, Ph.D.
Certified and Licensed Sport and Clinical Psychologist
Diplomate, National Institute of Sports Professionals, Division of Psychologists
Diplomate, American Academy of Behavioral Medicine
Certified Hypnotherapist, American Academy of Clinical Hypnosis

Aug 07

Job Burnout Prevention

By Dr. Jack Singer | Stress Management

Stress Management Tips: Job Burnout Prevention

Job burnout and stress“Burnout” has been defined as “a state of mental or physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.”

Job burnout is an insidious problem in the American workforce, among all levels of employees.  Frequently undiagnosed, burnout may appear in job statistics of absenteeism statistics, in suicide rates, or in the development of chronic illnesses that keep employees from working.  Ultimately, working oneself to death can be the disguise for job burnout.

Job Conditions That Lead to Burnout

The following conditions have been found to lead to burnout.  Obviously, the more of these that a person has to deal with, the more the likelihood of burnout occurring:

  • Heavy workload
  • Long work hours and difficult deadlines
  • Little participation in decision-making
  • Poor communications within the organization
  • Conflicting or uncertain expectations from supervisors
  • Job insecurity
  • Lack of recognition
  • Poor advancement opportunities
  • Minimal support from supervisors or co-workers
  • Unpleasant or dangerous working environments or conditions

Three Stages of Job Burnout

Now, all of the person’s defenses are worn to a frazzle.  She/he may be overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness and/or helplessness.  A lack of motivation, fatigue, cynicism and even suicidal thoughts may be present, along with major physiological symptoms.  Frequent trips to medical specialists who run many tests and find nothing are common occurrences .

Preventing Job Burnout

Of course, being examined my a mental health professional is a wonderful preventive technique.  But what steps can the employee take in order to avoid the symptoms of job burnout?

  • Feel comfortable delegating responsibility at work
  • Find outlets for frustration, like a brisk walk at noon, reading, listening to music, etc.
  • Become assertive and be able to say “no” to excessive demands on your time
  • Feel good about your accomplishments even if you don’t get recognized by supervisors
  • Avoid excessive alcohol, prescription drugs, nicotine and caffeine
  • Look everywhere for humor
  • Remain optimistic in the face of frustration
  • Learn to organize your time
  • Take frequent breaks
  • Practice good nutrition
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Have a friend, spouse or colleague who is a good listener

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

**You have permission to reprint in your publication or to your website/blog any articles by Dr.Jack Singer found on this Website as long as Dr. Jack Singer’s name and contact information is included. Jack Singer, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Pyschologist, Sport Psychologist, Marriage, Family & Relationship Therapist, Professional Motivational Speaker. http://dr.jacksinger.com, toll free 800-497-9880.