It’s pretty common that everyone in any profession – Teachers, Nurses, Doctors, etc. – is susceptible to burnout. Despite being so common, many law enforcement agencies aren’t aware of why burnout happens or how to keep it at bay. But they need to know.
Being able to understand cop burnout, its causes, and how to prevent it is critical in order to maintain a positive environment and keep attrition to a minimum.
What are the symptoms of burnout?
If you feel overloaded, helpless, or unappreciated, you may be having a burnout. Coming out of the bed may also require a lot of work. But this is not something that happens overnight. The signs are subtle at first and may worsen with time. They include:
You can also develop behavioral signs like:
What is the difference between burnout and stress?
Stress refers to having too much pressure in our lives which can interfere with your physical and mental wellbeing. Also, it produces hyperactivity, leads to anxiety disorder, and may kill you prematurely. The good thing is that a stressed person can get better by keeping everything under control. On the other hand, burnout means the feeling of emptiness or being mentally exhausted. It brings a loss of motivation and makes life worthless.
What are the causes of burnout?
Anyone who feels undervalued or overworked is at risk of burnout. As you work on home/work-related demands, the way you look at the world may cause overwhelming stress. Other things that may contribute to burnout include personality and lifestyle traits. Examples of lifestyle-related burnout include lack of sleep or taking too many responsibilities. For personality traits, you can expect things like being pessimistic, unable to delegate others, or believing nothing is too good for you.
If you’re going through any of the above signs, it’s time to act. Never try to push through exhaustion as it may cause further damage. The best way to approach the issue is to change direction and feel healthy again. Be sure to watch for the warning signs and build your resilience to stress. Also, take care of your physical and emotional health.
How to keep burnout at bay
The easiest way to deal with burnout is to turn to other people. When everything looks difficult and insurmountable, you should take action and bring life back on track. The most effective tactic is to reach out to other people in your social circle. You need a good listener or someone who can help you fix your stressors without passing judgment.
Schedule a double date
Instead of directing all your attention to your mobile device, try to engage your married friend by suggesting a double date. Dating your spouse is important, it’s fun and it’s helpful to strengthening your marriage. But spouses should plan to double date, too.
Married couples need married friends. Double dates aren’t just for high school and college, and the social interaction will help your mood, and overall outlook on life and your career.
Reach out to trusted friends
Most friends will be flattered when you confide with them. But don’t think of what is burning you out. Instead, spend quality time with people you trust. It’s never too late to add new friends to your social circle.
Join a community group
Never underestimate the power of religious or support groups. You’ll find people you share similar problems and those who can help you deal with daily stress. For work-related burnout, be sure to join a professional association and interact with people going through the same challenges.
Don’t hang around negative people
Being around people who think negatively will only drag you down. If you work with someone who shares different ideologies, limit your time together.
Look at work from a different angle
If your job is unfulfilling, you should quit and find another one instead. While this may not seem like a practical solution for many of us, it will help you combat burnout. Some of us are just happy that we have a job that pays the bills. The good news is that there are a few steps you can take to improve the situation.
Build strong ties outside of work
The easiest way to counter the effects of burnout is to make friends outside of work. having friends at work is great, but ONLY hanging out with people you work with can be lead to topics that only pertain to law enforcement and nothing else. You need a break from it all so make friends outside the badge.
Take some time off
Going for a vacation is a remarkable way of recharging the batteries. If burnout is inevitable, take a temporary leave, use up the sick days, and anything else at your disposal. When this doesn’t work, you may want to pursue other methods of recovery.
Reevaluate your goals, hopes, and dreams
Burnout occurs when something is not working as expected in your life. Look at things and reevaluate whether they are important to you. This can be a great opportunity to rest or rediscover what slows you down.
Bring out your creative side
Think about something you’ve always wanted to do. Maybe you like to try a fun project, write poems, or resume your favorite hobby. What you choose should have nothing to do with stress.
Take a break
Try to disconnect from technology – turn off your phone, put away the laptop, and don’t check that email.
Set clear boundaries
Learn to say no. If something goes beyond your limit, say no. Always remind yourself that saying `No’ allows you to say `YES’ to important commitments.
Set aside some time to relax
Activate your body’s relaxation response through deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and more. The idea is to bring a state of restlessness that can counter the stress response.
Get up to 8 hours of sleep
The easiest way to keep away from a stressful situation is by getting a goodnight’s sleep. It will help you think rationally by exacerbating the burnout.
While working out is the last thing you want to do during burnout, it’s a great antidote to stress. Experts recommend that you take at least 30 minutes a day to workout. And you don’t have to do strenuous activities. A 10-minutes’ walk can be a powerful mood-booster. Other than that, you should take part in activities where you move your hands and legs. This will help to relax your mind, sharpen focus, and increase energy. To maximize stress relief, focus on how your body moves and how the feet hit the ground.
Eat a healthy diet
What you eat affects the energy levels in your body. To keep burnout at bay, you should minimize the intake of sugars and carbohydrates. These foods can compromise energy levels and interfere with your mood. Besides that, you should avoid taking foods with preservatives, caffeine, and trans-fats. Be sure to eat more omega-3 fatty acids. The best sources are flaxseed, salmon, sardines, seaweed, etc.