The following is a list of tips and techniques for reducing stress and burnout in the counseling profession. Many of the suggestions are also applicable to other jobs. This is meant to be an exhaustive list to the best of our knowledge and research; however, if you have any additions or revisions for the list, please contact us!
- Know you aren’t the only one who can do the workshop or help the client.
- Set boundaries when it comes to taking on new clients, speaking engagements, and workshops. Would saying yes take away from taking care of yourself?
- Refer people who want to “just take a minute of your time” to talk about a mental health problem to others in the profession.
- Chose not to feel responsible for helping everyone who comes your way. (Mental health counselors are genuinely kind and nurturing and people with problems are attracted to them.)
- Set priorities in your life, remembering the needs of your own family.
- Surround yourself with positive people when you are not at work.
- Anticipate and be sensitive to your body’s stress signals.
- Unclutter your life and even your interests.
- Strive for excellence, NOT perfection.
- Learn to meet your own needs.
- Avoid chemical stimulants.
- Limit caffeine intake.
- Maintain your weight.
- Exercise 3-4 times a week; it benefits both the mind and the body.
- Snack on healthy snacks like vegetables, popcorn, cheese and crackers. (Sugar tends to raise your blood sugar quickly and then it falls rapidly, leaving you feeling tired.)
- Eat three meals a day. (Try and see if you can eat 5-6 servings of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.)
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Get enough sleep.
- Find an interest that is not associated with work that you can find meaning and have a passion for.
- Take time every day for meditation and/or personal reflection.
- Keep a journal.
- Slow down and notice the beauty around you.
- Note throughout your day if you have tense muscles, especially around the neck and shoulders. Take a few minutes to relax them.
- Find support in others (preferably outside of the workplace).
- Let loved ones in on your feelings of stress and frustration.
- Ask someone to become your “vent” partner.
- Seek counseling from someone not involved with your place of employment.
- Join associations for support and education from colleagues in your field.
- Get up fifteen minutes earlier each day so that you won’t be rushed.
- Schedule into your day special time for yourself and be faithful in following through.
- Don’t rely on your memory…write it down.
- Break large tasks into bite-size portions and ask for help in completing them.
- Prepare for tomorrow today so you won’t be caught unprepared.