Preventing Professional Burnout

As Recreational Therapists in behavioral health we have a direct influence on our patients’ recovery. Our interventions allow us to facilitate and witness magical moments of sudden emotional growth. This instant gratification is something that keeps us coming back for more – even when we face frustrations and challenges in the workplace.

Some frustrations/challenges may include struggling to gain professional recognition within your institution, shoestring budgets, being overworked and under-thanked, or the seemingly endless crusade to explain to co-workers in other disciplines just what exactly Recreational Therapy does for our patients. After working on a crisis and stabilization unit for the past three years, I can say with great certainty that I have never left work exhausted by my patients, though I have left some days exhausted by the environment that I work in and the attitude of people I work with. We teach self-care strategies to our patients, but are we doing enough self-care ourselves? Inevitably there will be things that we have no control over, but we must focus our energy on the areas where we can effect change. One thing that we can always control (though it may take some work), is our reaction to the stressors around us. There is a lot of wisdom in the adage, “When life gives you lemons make lemonade”. A positive attitude is the foundation of self-care. A patient once told me during a session that positive thinking is hopeful thinking, and that thought has stuck with me because it is so true. Burnout is what happens as we run out of hope. Don’t lose hope – you are amazing at what you do.

Start renewing your hope right now by checking out this YouTube video by Kimberly Grandal, CTRS titled “Frustrated, Burnt, Angry and Resentful: A-Z Tips for Recreation and Activity Professionals Who Need a Boost!”

Post by Tara Martin, MS CTRS
Behavioral Health Section Co-Chair

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