maanantai 2. heinäkuuta 2018

Burnout and selfcare for the social work profession
In the 21st International Summer School in Social Work we had guests from 10 different countries. The atmosphere in the course was really cosy and conversational. We had student panels from different countries and we had also presentations about many interesting subjects. We chose to write about burnout and selfcare for the social work profession, because it’s interesting topic and also current issue in Finland. Dr. Donna Wampole from University of Southern Maine, USA, was giving us presentation about this theme. The presentation was really interesting, beneficial and also really entertaining. Donna Wampole encouraged us to take care of ourselves in the future when we are working as social workers.
Burnout is an international phenomenon which can happen to everyone around the world, especially to people who have demanding job, where they are helping other people and see all kinds of issues. In Finland there has been a lot of discussion about burn out among social workers. Many social workers have had to take a break from their profession to recover from it. Recovery from burnout can take many months.
Dr. Donna Wampole was telling us that compassion fatigue can turn into burnout. She was telling us that when we meet sad or unpleasant things, we begin to feel tense. Sometimes some cases can hit you and somehow really touches you and you can’t seem to let it go. Then you became emotionally exhausted. When you are emotionally exhausted, you might feel anxious, depressed, distress and anger and you need additional sleep. When someone is suffering from burnout, there can also be challenges falling or staying asleep, weight gain, poor eating habits and so on. However, burnout is a different experience for everyone.
Social work as a profession is quite demanding, because there is so many people that need help but there’s not enough resources to help everyone as fast as should. Especially in child protection there has been a huge crisis in Finland; one social worker has too many children to work with. This kind of situation can easily lead to social workers burnout.
When someone is suffering from burnout or stress, it is helpful to find ways to relax. For example, you can do something active and exercise or take a walk, whatever you find relaxing. Creative art and music can be helpful to someone, or spending time with family and friends. It also helps if you know yourself, for example if you are introvert, you might relax easier by yourself and extrovert relaxes better being with other people.
Mindfulness has been truly effective exercise in taking care of burnout patients. The origin of mindfulness is from Buddhism and it is commonly used in many therapies nowadays. Doing mindfulness, you need to concentrate on how you feel. ¨The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment¨ (Kabat-Zinn 2003, pg. 145).
At the end of presentation, we tried to do mindfulness and it was really relaxing. We closed our eyes and just focused on to this moment. We also repeated positive thoughts and hoped positive things, even to people that we find a little bit challenging. It might be good to all of us to start doing mindfulness already, maybe we could prevent burnout that way!
Kati Frantti, Wilma Kallio
Social work students, University of Lapland

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