By Munyale Kwabe
Recently, I have been forced to take a break from work and many social activities. This push was not intentional, but the need arose because even though my spirit was willing, my body was weak. Very weak. I could feel my body slowly drifting into an unconscious state where everything I did was methodological. I wake up, and I have the same routine. The only thing that changes is the names of the people I meet every day. Being a humanitarian responder does a lot to you, a lot we don’t talk about. Yes, you are passionate about what you do, but the bigger question is if you can deal with all the traumas and stress that come with the job. It is hard sometimes. Even though it doesn’t seem that way on most days, it is hard.
Unlike most people, you are expected to be strong. You are expected to be alert every time there is a new case. You are expected to know what to do and how to do it automatically. No one expects you to be weak. You work odd hours and get little appreciation. You are taken away from most activities and miss out on so much in life because this job has no fixed time or wage.
You also find yourself unable to talk about what goes on in your head because you know there are people who suffer more than you, and you feel they need the help more. So you undermine your feelings and prioritise others before yourself. Somedays, you feel talking about your stress and burnout would come up as a grumble; when, in fact, you love what you do. So you sit and try to deal with all your emotions alone. You try not to “complain” and push yourself to give as much help that you can, and when you feel like taking a break from it all, the guilt sets in. You are reminded every day through the media that the time you are using to rest is the same time another perpetrator is committing a crime.
Some of the common symptoms of burnout are:
- Feeling dissatisfaction with your job.
- Decreased energy while performing your job.
- Anger and irritation.
- Loss of appetite.
- Drug and alcohol abuse.
- Isolating one’s self.
And many more.
However, you must remember one fact: you are human. It is ok to be tired. It is ok to feel burnout. It is ok to take a break. You have to remember that you cannot do your job well if you are not in the best of health. So here are some tips to help you deal with burnout.
- Have a support system. This can be in the form of group therapy or personal sessions. You can also try to talk with more people who work in the same field as you. Talking to others can help soothe the stress, and knowing you are not the only one with such experience can bring comfort.
- Have a safe space for relaxation. It is essential to have the means to deal with the anxiety and workload that comes with the job. Have a day a week when you do things for fun. If you do not have this luxury, try to make it bi-weekly or monthly. On this day, you do nothing related to work, and you are focused on your mental health and regaining balance.
- Work and social life balance. Everyone is different and thus require other things to relax. It is therefore important that you have a clean and healthy work and social life balance. Try not to overdo anything. Remember that if you are not in the best frame of mind, you cannot give survivors your best.
- Ask for help when you need it. When feeling burnout, try to ask for assistance from colleagues. We all need help, and there is no shame in asking for it.
- Show support to there’s who feel burnout. To grow and succeed, we must support each other.
Be kind to yourself.
Remember that a crime did not occur because you lacked in your work. There are simply bad people out there who do bad things, and to stop them; you must be stronger. To be stronger, you have to be at your best, mentally and physically.
Breath and try to affirm to yourself that you are doing the best you can. We at STER are with you, and we understand you. Take care of yourself first so you can care for others.
Photocred: Lead Read Today