Are you feeling the burn(out)? Learn how to identify the symptoms of burnout in childcare.
So What Is Burnout… Exactly?
According to Melinda Smith at HelpGuide, burnout is “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.” When we experience a high level of stress for days, weeks, or even months on end without support or an end in sight, we begin to become cynical, uninterested, and even lack motivation to actually do even the things we once loved about our jobs. Prolonged burnout can affect your home life as well.
It’s sneaky the way it can permeate every aspect of life, including your health. So, it’s important to understand how to identify burnout before it gets to that point or better yet how to avoid it altogether.
What Are Some Of The Symptoms Of Burnout?
- Irritability or impatience with co-workers, children and their parents
- Lack of energy to be consistently productive
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of satisfaction from work achievements
- Disillusionment about your job
- Use of food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel
- Change in sleep habits
That Sounds Like Me… What Do I Do To Avoid Burnout?
Also, remember to take time to socialize and laugh! Surrounding yourself with positive people, preferably outside of your professional group, gives your mental health a boost, especially during mentally low times, such as burnout. It takes your mind off the stresses of the day and allows you to have perspective on those things eating at you. Kavita Khajuria, MD, of the Psychiatric Times wrote that laughter “elevates the pain threshold and can help break the cycle between pain, sleep loss, depression, and immunosuppression. Laughter lowers blood pressure, epinephrine, and glucose levels, and increases glucose tolerance.”
How To Prevent Burnout In Childcare Workers
Child care center directors and admins have a critical role in supporting your staff throughout the year to help keep the dreaded burnout at bay. Burnout is a major factor in high turnover, costing small businesses between 16-20% of annual salary for every employee who leaves, according to People Keep’s Christina Merhar. However, you can get ahead of this beast and offer your staff some perks that will hopefully keep the work/life balance in order as well as retain your employees for the longer term. Appreciation and recognition are key.
Here are few ways to do both:
- Minimize and simplify paperwork and mundane tasks using technology
- Open door policy—let them know that you are always in their corner—be approachable and one who takes action to rectify challenges
- Rotate ancillary duties (car duty, lunch duty, front desk duty, etc.) often, and allow teachers and staff to trade responsibilities.
- Recognize even the small instances of someone going the extra mile (Sonic gift cards, duty free day, order in lunch for that teacher, publish their good deed in the monthly newsletter)
- Provide special staff breakfasts once a month
- Coupons for jeans/casual dress days
- Make the effort to privately thank each member of your team every single day for something they did well
Burnout is no joke for childcare workers. It also doesn’t have to feel like the end of the world. If we are in the workforce long enough, we will all experience it in some form or fashion. However, with recognition and deliberate change, we can win the burnout battle!
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