This is the third in our series on case manager stress relief. In the first post we discussed the physical things you can do daily to relieve stress. The second post focused on ways to find mental stress relief. Today, we look at how to prevent burnout by identifying and lessening exhaustion factors.
A Burnout Overview
Burnout is something case managers routinely battle due to the excessive and extended amounts of stress that can come with the job. Accompanying burnout are emotional and physical exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.
Identifying Factors That Lead to Burnout
One of the first steps to take when trying to prevent burnout is to identify the factors that can lead to it. We know that while case management can be rewarding and meaningful work, it also routinely involves numerous stressors that can be overwhelming after long periods of time.
Before coming up with a solution, you’ll have to recognize what those triggers are. Take a moment to evaluate what precisely is wearing you down. Is it an overwhelming amount of paperwork that is keeping you from interacting with clients? Perhaps it’s a poor work/life balance or a chaotic and unorganized work environment? There are numerous reasons why someone may experience burnout, including:
- Having unclear goals or job expectations
- Unreasonable and unrealistic expectations
- Working in a dysfunctional team/organization
- Constant excessive workloads
- High-stress times with no “down” times
Limiting Factors That Lead to Burnout
Case manager stress relieve requires the identification of factors that are leading to burnout, so you can address the issues head on. You can perform a job analysis and then eliminate or delegate any unnecessary work. Try to set aside some time during the day to give yourself a “brain break,” where you stop working for a few moments and take a walk or even practice some meditation exercises. These simple brain breaks can greatly lessen your mental exhaustion.
Establishing a peer support group is a great way to discuss struggles and victories with those who best understand. It can also prove to be an excellent sounding board regarding stressful situations. It’s important to be proactive regarding your burnout factors, because if not identified and limited, they could ultimately impact your overall health and well-being.
Over the years, caseloads and responsibilities have increased significantly. Often budgets don't keep up. So, extra work falls onto the existing case managers. This leads to long hours and both physical and mental exhaustion. Look for ways to either shift some of the responsibilities or streamline menial tasks. Can you bring in an intern to pick up some of these tasks? Do you have the right case management software to make the work more efficient? Are you using the software you have in the most efficient manner to cut down the amount of time you spend on paperwork and scheduling? All these factors could help lessen your exhaustion and your stress.
Case manager stress relief comes in many different forms and truly depends on personal experience. Once you’ve identified the burnout triggering items, you’ll be able to tailor a response for each situation, and therefore, coming out on top of the stressors. It is important to make sure you consider all forms of stress (physical, mental and burnout) to ensure your overall well-being. The more stress you can eliminate or find better ways to manage, the better you will be able to serve your clients.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in September 2018 and has been updated with additional information and content.