Summer Provides Opportunity to Combat Burnout

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By Rebecca Williams, MSW – June 6, 2024 –

Burnout is defined as chronic stress related to helping others. As a school social worker, I can certainly relate to this, and I believe teachers and other school personnel can as well. According to Michelle Ratcliff in the article, “Social Workers, Burnout, and Self Care” in the Delaware Journal of Public Health, social workers and mental health professionals are very susceptible to burnout.

Ratcliff also notes that a form of burnout we may feel the most is emotional burnout. This type of burnout comes from being emotionally drained and can result in feeling a low sense of personal accomplishment, depersonalization, and pessimism. According to social worker burnout statistics on the website crowncounseling.com, emotional exhaustion is observed at a rate of 70.3 percent of social workers. Current burnout rates among social workers are at 39 percent with a lifetime rate of 75 percent.

Maybe you have experienced burnout before or maybe you haven’t. Either way, we should try to prevent it or reverse it. As school-based service providers, I believe we are given a unique opportunity to combat the onset of burnout. This opportunity comes with holiday breaks and our longest break, summer.

Although some of us may take on an extra job or have young kids home in the summer, we should try our best to plan time for ourselves. We have many options during the summer to implement self-care for our families and ourselves. When I think of summer, I think of a time to take a vacation, go for walks, go on picnics, learn a new skill, go to the beach, or read a book entirely for pleasure instead of something educational. These new skills and forms of self-care we build on in the summer will better prepare us for a new school year in the fall and have us feeling refreshed to provide the best service.

It is also very important for our students to be refreshed. Summer is a perfect time for parents to engage with their children during a much-needed break. Teachers and school personnel should encourage families to implement their own forms of self-care.

According to the article, “Schools Out! Tips For Taking Advantage of Summer Break to De-Stress from the Hustle and Bustle” on the website psychiatry.org, many summer options can fit into any family and lifestyle. The first idea is to spend and enjoy time outside. This can be as simple as going for walks, going to a park, or going to the pool.

A second idea is to reduce the use of technology and electronics during summer break. Technology can have a negative effect on a young person’s mood and self-esteem, so it is important to encourage families to unplug their devices and find creative ways to interact with each other. Additionally, we should encourage our students to spend time with friends and keep their healthy/positive relationships strong.

Lastly, consider practicing mindfulness, which can be defined as paying attention in the present moment. Mindfulness can include practices such as meditation, walking while observing nature, mindful eating, or taking stock of how each body part is feeling while sitting or lying down. This is a way for the family to relax and build closer connections. Mindfulness is something I encourage with my students, and extending that to their family would be an added benefit. This way the family can reinforce progress the student has made and build good habits together.