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Avoiding burnout working at a domestic violence shelter

Working in domestic violence shelters can be an incredibly fulfilling profession for many people. However, the job also presents numerous challenges for employees who are continuously working in stressful, highly emotional, and even dangerous environments. Due to these reasons and many more, many employees experience burnout on the job. Also known as secondary trauma, it is common for domestic violence workers to experience compassion fatigue from spending the majority of their time supporting others.

Some of the main traits of burnout include feelings of guilt, anger, irritability, depression, exhaustion, and fear. If you want to avoid burnout, DomesticShelters.org writes that you must follow each of these five steps:

1. Setting boundaries
While you might want to, you cannot help everyone all the time. No matter how passionate you are about the cause, you won't be able to do your very best if you are not setting appropriate boundaries and being realistic about what you can accomplish. Just because you have your smartphone with you all the time does not mean you should be checking emails incessantly or answering every client call outside of your set work hours. Though there are exceptions, do your best to balance your work-home life.

2. Not doing it alone
It's far too easy in this line of work to feel like you have to do it all. However, you certainly don't have to. Collaborate with your coworkers on how to handle certain cases and ask them advice about how they have learned to avoid burnout. Even when your colleagues can't do anything to relieve your workload, it can be nice just to have a cup or coffee or tea and support each other each week.

3. Practicing self-care
Though you may love being busy all the time, you need to make sure you are taking care of your mental and physical health. You need to be eating well-balanced meals, exercising several times a week and seeing your doctor regularly. Meanwhile, given the nature of your work, it's best to also seek out mental health counseling as well. This way, you will be able to be fully present for each of your clients and not sacrifice your own peace of mind.

5. Picking up a hobby
Even if you don't have time to start playing piano or painting, you do need to ensure that you are finding time to invest in a hobby or other de-stressing activity regularly. For for those who are exceptionally busy, this may simply mean getting into a new television show or cooking a new recipe once a week. Whatever is the case, just like with practicing good self-care, you need to invest in activities that aren't centered around work. As meaningful as your work is to you, you also need to take the time to do what you love outside of the office.

6. Socializing outside of work
You certainly need supportive work friends to get through each day. However, it's also important to reach out to others outside of your work circle. You'll be able to decompress so much more if you aren't constantly spending time in and outside of the office with the people you work with. Or, even if you still want to hang out with your work friends, issue a "no work talk" ban, so that you can all properly relax and have fun.

At ProSolutions Training, we offer online social worker training, such as "Surviving the Workplace: Preventing or Fixing Burnout," for interested professionals. Contact us today to learn more!