Millions of people dedicate their lives to serving and helping others. This can be very rewarding at times, and can bring people a lot of joy. But more often than not, people will end up being disappointed by those they are trying to help. This rings especially true for people who work with difficult populations, such as drug addicts or those with mental illnesses. Dealing with the emotions of other people on a daily basis can lead to emotional burnout, which has profound negative effects on mental health and overall happiness.
Getting let down by the people you work tirelessly to help every day can be a means for motivation. But when it keeps happening over and over, especially with people you feel have made progress, it become emotionally draining. People who experience emotional burnout will feel emotionally drained at work and in their personal lives. They will stop trying as hard to help, because they expect to fail. If the burnout isn’t dealt with, the person will probably end up becoming extremely unhappy with their job and end up quitting.
However, its possible to have a life-long career in serving people without experiencing extreme emotional burnout. It may be difficult at times, but it’s necessary. It’s necessary not only maintain your own happiness, but to be able to help others as best you can.
Don’t Absorb Emotions
People who enter a career of serving other tend to be empaths. They feel the emotional pain of their peers, which is why they are so great at helping them. But when these empaths start taking on the problems and emotions of their clients, things can get out of hand quickly.
It’s okay to empathize with your clients. But it’s not okay completely fall into what they are feeling, because you will then be personally tied to their emotions. This may seem great if your client ends up doing well and making a lot of progress, because you will also feel that joy and accomplishment. But if they fail, you will feel their failure as they do. And it will be difficult to separate yourself from it. This quickly takes a toll on people, leading them to feel unhappiness even after they leave work.
Practice Mindfulness and Meditation
It’s important for people in social services to always stay in the present, and never get caught up in what-if scenarios. If you’re dealing with a high volume of cases, it can be easy to constantly worry about everyone. You may find yourself unable to turn your brain away from your work, even well after you’ve gotten home. This can rapidly turn into a big problem, because you will mentally and emotionally wear yourself out.
When you live in the moment, the only thing you’ll be focused on is what is currently happening. You will not dwell on the past or worry about the future. You will simply do your best in the present moment, which is all you can ever do.
To achieve this, you should start practicing mindfulness or meditation. Meditation is allowing yourself time every day to sit quietly and let your mind rest. When thoughts pop up in your mind, you simply acknowledge them, take note, and let them go. Not only does this allow your mind time to rest, but it makes living in the moment easier throughout the rest of your day.
Ask For Help
There are going to be days that are unavoidably emotional. Something may have happened to one of your clients or patients, and it will be impossible for you to remain distant and separate yourself from the situation. When these days happen, it’s important to reach out for help.
Whether you get support from family, a friend, or even a therapist, you’re going to need someone to talk to on difficult days. Keeping emotions bottled up because you’re afraid to burden someone will only lead to a fast track towards emotional burnout. By simply sharing your thoughts with someone else, you’ll relieve stress and you’ll know you aren’t completely alone in dealing with the emotions of your career.