Earlier this year, an outreach worker who we’ll call Sandra, noticed that her attitude to work had changed: “I wasn’t able to get the work done that I needed to, and I caught myself saying, ‘Oh gosh, I hope I have all no-shows today because I don’t have anything left to give…’. I think that was the breaking point.” Sandra knew something needed to change, and gave herself a month. When her work situation didn’t change she realized, “I’m going to have to be the one to change, and to do that I need to come in fresh, with a different outlook and different expectations.” Under the advice of her doctor, Sandra took a leave of absence for stress.
Françoise Mathieu, a certified mental health counsellor with a master’s degree in counselling psychology, and a compassion fatigue specialist in Kingston Ont., runs workshops across Canada to help professionals improve self-care and combat burnout. She says burnout is on the rise, and it’s not surprising. “People are doing more work than ever. If you look at work-life balance, we’re spending five weeks less per year with our family than we were 20 years ago.”