Hello Dr. Weiss,
Thank you for this Q&A! How do you avoid burnout especially when your job requires to work with people and care for their needs? Yet, you have your own needs and days that seem neverending.
Hi! Can’t wait to connect with you all about cultivating compassion.
Hi Sunny, great question. Burnout and compassion fatigue are both passions of mine because it is critical for people in caregiving roles to stay healthy and energized themselves.
One of the things that is important is to recognize the signs of burnout. Early on, in the burnout spectrum, people often experience workaholism. In the middle of the spectrum people can struggle with sleep, digestion, hormonal imbalance etc. On the high end of the spectrum, when someone moves towards collapse they can develop symptoms that look like post traumatic stress.
Beyond understanding the signs of burnout, it is critical to know how to take steps as individuals, teams, and organizations toward greater health. Direct managers, for example, can be a key contributor to either burning out or resilience.
Last and not least, look at your own individual risk factors for burnout by taking this quiz I’ve developed. You can also take it as a team. https://www.skylyte.io/self-assessment
Let me know if you have any follow up questions!
Thank you. This is one of the best responses I have seen regarding how to look for burnout.
So excited to have you here! I am curious if you have any recommendations for self-compassion during this time. I am fortunate enough to have a stable job right now, but with that comes a lot of guilt and emotions of sadness for my friends and family that are not in the same position as me. How can I balance this feeling of being grateful that I have a job with the panic that I have for those around me?
Thank you for taking the time to answer me!
Hi Dr. Weiss! Thank you for being here today. Will you please address self-care during times of high stress?
Thanks Sunny. Lmk what you think of the quiz when you take it.
Hi Dr.Weiss, Thanks for being here. At this time, I feel burnout might mean something different than even 2 months back. Do you feel like its evolved with the current climate, and how do we we deal with that differently? Thank you!
I took the quiz and it was pretty accurate surprisingly based off the questions that were asked. In fact, it eerily matched a review given to me by a former manager.
Thanks for this question. I love that it speaks to both self-compassion as well as compassion for the others around you.
I think it is helpful to start with the 3-part definition of self-compassion (mindfulness, common humanity, and self-kindness).
What that means in practice is to be aware of what you are feeling (which it sounds like you are by naming the guilt and emotions as a component of your experience).
Building on that- 1. Can you get more clear on your own feelings to build that mindful foundation? 2. Building out the idea of common humanity- what you have in common with the other people around you in the context of this issue? So- thinking of the other people who have their jobs and like you are grappling with stress/guilt. And remembering any experience you’ve had of fearing for resources in the past as a way to relate to the people around you. 3. Can you be kind to yourself in this tough scenario. Imagine how you’d respond to a friend who came to you struggling with ‘survivors’ guilt’. You’d offer them support, encouragement etc. But often we don’t do that with ourselves.
What I would suggest to build the s-c muscle would be 2 things. 1. Practice self-compassion meditation. 2. Write a self-compassionate letter. Take each of these 3 elements in the para above and write yourself a letter. Dear Palletan, paragraph one is about mindfulness of your situation- exploring thoughts, feelings etc. Paragraph 2 on the common humanity. Paragraph 3 on the message of self-kindness or self coaching. And then read it to yourself when you are done. Or put it away and read in a few days. You can find more instructions for this in my book How We Work
Lmk how it goes! Or if you have follow up questions!
That is such a critical question. And is exactly where I’m practicing myself these days. I’ve got three little kids (all home) and I am the breadwinner for the family- so there is a TON to do at all times. And I’ve long struggled with this- but in the past 6 months have made massive strides in putting my health first. This has yielded not only losing 40 pounds since July, but feeling mentally and emotionally stronger than I’ve been since the days of doing 100 day and six month meditation retreats (with no kids or responsibilities other than meditation).
A simple thought on this (simple but not easy) is to remind ourselves that our ability to be there for the people we have to tend to our own needs. For me, I always felt mommy guilt about how much I’ve worked and struggled to take the time to move my body. So what I’ve changed in the past 7 months is focusing on how I’m modeling the importance of self-care and sustainability for my 3 children. I’ve adapted to working out at home and in my neighborhood more, so my kids can come and hang out with me. I’ve got an art setup next to my bike and I invite them to do yoga, dance, strength training with me.
I’ve never felt better and it was really a massive change. I can promise you that you can do it too. And I’d love to hear what resonates or feels off to you about what I’m sharing.
That is great to hear. You might consider taking it with your work team, comparing answers, and discussing how you can support one another as a next step.
Thanks for being on this Q&A. I live in Belgium.
I feel that the corona situation brings beautiful opportunities as well.
Sure I don’t want anybody to get killed by this virus, or loose their jobs, yet the world slows down and I love it. I feel a tiny little bit ashamed to tell my friends I love this period.
it is such a wonderful opportunity to go inwards. It breaks my heart when I hear people say they feel / are bored.
I know plenty of people who are sensitive to depression.
I was going towards a burn out myself …
I wished people would take time to meditate, even if it’s 5 minutes a day. It will make a difference. I recently registered myself to a meditation app and I feel so proud of myself every time I take a little bit of time ( 5, 10, sometimes 15 min ).
What to do … some people simply prefer to take medication instead of realising its their responsibilty to make something out of their life. Am I too radical ?
Sure these times we are in are scary, but it’s also a major lesson to each one of us that we can never control life. There is still so much to be grateful for …
This is something I simply love / wantd to share, it is not a real Q.
I agree. First, I think that the current crisis puts mental health and burnout front and center in a way it hasn’t been before. We are all struggling and we are talking about it, which I hope will be a foundation for changes that stick when we get through this together.
Second, I also think there are increased risks now that we need to be aware of. When there’s no separation between work and the rest of life (or no respite from the very real work of caregiving for children etc.) the pressure on us mounts exponentially. We are ‘always on’ and the rituals and transitions many people rely on are taken away from them in this quarantine reality. Third, from the point of view of psychology, tolerating fear and ambiguity are two of the hardest tasks we have as humans. And that is what we are all navigating around the clock right now.
So what to do? I think starting with building new rituals is a key starting place. How do we delineate starting and stopping work? How do we motivate ourselves to move our bodies? How do we give ourselves space to be with our fears rather than suppress them? If we can ask and answer these questions together we will be more resilient.
We also need community and feedback from others because when we are burning out we are like a frog in the pot. We don’t realize it. So we need accountability, support, and grace from others to help ourselves stay resilient.
Great to connect. I was in Belgium several times last year and was supposed to be coming again in April for work with the European Commission and to run some trainings in Brussels.
I think your point is well taken about the upside of some time to be home, inward, introspective. I hear you expressing this in a thoughtful way- with compassion and an understanding that the virus and the suffering it is causing is not what you are embracing. Your point that this radical redefinition of how we can collectively live our lives at frenetic paces and with external focus could benefit from updating. The news about how our collective slowing down is positively impacting the planet and wildlife I think is another example of what you are pointing to. I share your hope that we can collectively make changes as a result of this crisis that will stick.
But maybe I’m equally radical? lol!
Thanks for your question and thoughts on this.
Hi Dr. Weiss. Thank you so much for hosting this Q&A.
I was hoping you could provide some advice on how to speak with parents or grandparents during this trying time, as it sometimes has felt like a role reversal.
Appreciate your time!
Dear Dr Weisz,
I hope yourself and the yoga community are looking out for and taking care of yourselves and one another.
I work full time as a nanny (while they are home from school) for a B3 and G5 and have a question directly related to self care and self compassion while caring for children.
How can I keep my energy up throughout the day? Both during and outside of working hours.
So far I try to remain constantly mindful and engaged at all times, while balancing that with those refresher moments to recharge, recollect myself and relax. (That, and a morning coffee).
And how can I be as kind and compassionate to myself as I am to the children? Like anyone, I don’t like shouting (albeit I do think it is necessary to be consistent in discipline) and feel bad sometimes if I do raise my voice.
At testing or challenging times, what are some practical tips and tricks that would be useful?
For example when children don’t comply, what would you suggest to try to make the situation as smooth, happy and chill and it can be for everyone (e.g. in times we’re running late, not hungry at meal times or sibling conflict)?
My main drive and motivation is that I really feel like I’m making a valuable contribution and difference to the children’s lives and love my job.
Thanks in advance for your reply
Dr. Weiss, How does acceptance come into play with the current state of affairs in the world? Can learning to accept things as they are then enable us to practice self-compassion by easing the ongoing battle to find peace and calm inside?
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