4 Proven Ways to Manage Therapist Burnout

We have all been there. Day in and day out doing the same thing. Stimulation seems low, excitement non-existent, and purpose fleeting.  This just happens to be part of human nature and we all go through it.  It often happens in the doldrums of winter, which can be dark and cold for what seems like eternity. It can also happen after a life change, such as the death of a loved one, a pet, the pass-over of a promotion, or just plain boredom or disillusionment with a situation. Part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is balancing your daily vocation with an interesting and life giving “avocation.”

Fortunately, Physical and Occupational Therapists, and their Assistants, as well as Speech Language Pathologists, have many options when it comes to trying something new. If you are feeling stuck, there are many different opportunities out there that can replenish, refresh, and inspire you.  Here are my current top recommendations for breaking up that “stuck in a funk” feeling.

Manage Burnout #1. Read an inspirational book that takes you away from your day to day routine

My number one recommendation to help snap you out of a funk is to read a good book, one that has nothing to do with therapy. Sometimes it is hard for healthcare professionals to step out of caregiving and see other careers.  I do not find fiction entertaining, so I recently read two books that are financial in nature. “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki and a book about Warren Buffett stimulated my financial brain and introduced me to different concepts. I enjoyed both books and learned some valuable lessons while NOT thinking about therapy.  Books can take to you far-away lands and stimulate your imagination. With a simple investment of time and minimal cost, reading is the easiest way to decrease your funk level.

Manage Burnout #2. Travel

Maybe reading about far away places, just isn’t enough of a change. You need a real adventure in your life.  So, start planning a trip! Luckily for those of us living in the USA, we can jump on a flight and be in Hawai’i, Alaska, or anywhere else generally within a day. I get the travel bug often, and one thing I enjoy is going to a foreign country because it gives me a total change of pace.  If you have the time, I suggest taking a trip somewhere outside of the US or Canada.  Puerto Rico is a US territory, yet it is mainly Spanish speaking. If you want to be in a place where the main language is English, how about Australia or New Zealand?  Of course there is Europe, Asia, and Africa; all places that have vast cultural differences and that will definitely snap you out of your funk.  I always find that when I get home I have a renewed view of the wonderful opportunities we, as therapists in the states, have.

READ  Q: Do you think being a travel therapist enhances your resume?

Manage Burnout #3. Commit to an athletic accomplishment

As we get older and more involved in our careers, we forget about our own amazing talents. Kids, jobs, volunteer situations, all these leave us with less time to get back to our human evolutionary roots.  If you are in a funk but cannot leave for a trip and reading a book sounds boring, I suggest signing up for an athletic adventure.  We can all move and compete.  Signing up for a 10K, mountain bike race, or Karate classes will help round out your days, weeks, and months with a new challenge and an activity that is good for you.  Science continues to prove that learning a new skill and exercise are two of the best ways to maintain a high quality of life.  Setting a goal, sticking to a schedule, and accomplishing your goal will jump start your adventurous spirit and certainly curtail your boredom.

Manage Burnout #4. What about trying out a Travel Job?

Do you need a longer term change in your situation?  Do you want to get out into the world and experience other places? Does moving permanently to another location sound like too big of a commitment?  Well, let me suggest taking a temporary travel therapy job.  As therapists, we can take temporary jobs in locations across the United States or close to our own home.  A travel company will provide you with insurance, a place to stay and good pay.  What is the worst that can happen? You don’t enjoy the gig?  Well, don’t worry about it; after all, it’s only temporary, and soon you will be on your way to a new gig.  Love it? Many times travel therapists are offered jobs that they are in on a permanent basis.

Life throws curveballs all the time.  These are just four simple things that therapists can do to get themselves out of a funk. We need to keep learning and keep moving because adventure awaits!

Share your story!

How have you been able to take advantage of these wonderful opportunities in life?  What are some things that have helped restore your zest for life?

Justin JohnsonJustin Johnson is currently living and working in Bellingham, WA. Justin graduated from Central Michigan University with his DPT in 2008 and earned his GCS designation in 2011. Justin has worked for large trauma 1 and teaching hospitals along with diverse settings as a travel PT for many years.  During the winters Justin can be found sliding up and down mountains on his skis or at Mt. Baker where he is a volunteer ski patroller. During the months where there is no snow he can be found on two wheels.  You can reach him at [email protected]

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