Transform Burnout into Productive Social Work Exam Prep: Part Two

In our recent post, Transform Burnout into Productive Social Work Exam Prep, we covered five indicators of burnout as well as the steps to overcoming the specific indicators based on Forbes contributor, Lisa M. Gerry, per Dr. Ballard, and her article 10 Signs You’re Burning Out – And What To Do About It. To refresh your memory, the first five indicators are:

  1. Exhaustion
  2. Lack of motivation
  3. Negative emotions
  4.  Cognitive problems
  5. Poor job performance

We complete the list below.

6. Interpersonal problems

You might be physically hanging out with friends but your mind is constantly thinking about the Social Work licensing exam. Withdrawing from relationships, even co-worker acquaintances, can be a sign of burnout.

You’re having more conflicts with other people […] or you withdraw, talking to your coworkers and family members less. You might find that even when you’re physically there, you’re tuned out.

You might typically be able to take a rest and then find the energy to study. If you constantly cannot find the energy to stick to your study plan, perhaps you’re experiencing burnout.

The solution:

Understand that burnout might be affecting your relationships. Once you understand that, figure out what other signs of burnout you might be experiencing and apply the pertinent solution we’ve suggested.

7. Poor self-care

It is normal to have a glass of wine after a stressful day. You might be experiencing burnout, though, when indulging in alcohol, or other appeasements such as sweets or sedentariness, becomes vital to your overall functioning.

[…] some people engage in unhealthy coping strategies like drinking too much, smoking, being too sedentary, eating too much junk food, not eating enough or not getting enough sleep.

The solution:

Tune into your body and listen to what it’s telling you.

It’s important to tune into the precursors of those conditions, physical signs that you might be under too much stress: more headaches, tight shoulders, a stiff neck or more frequent stomach upset. In terms of mental health, burnout affects depression, and if you’re depressed, that can also affect your level of burnout – it goes both ways.

8. Preoccupation with studying when you’re not studying

Do thoughts of studying or the work you have at your internships hold you captive?

[…] if you’re expending mental energy mulling over your job, then your work is interfering with your ability to recover from the stresses of your day.

The solution:

Find the root of your burnout.

Burnout is sometimes motivated by internal factors, Dr. Ballard says, and sometimes it really is a symptom of external ones. […] ask yourself “Where is this coming from?”

Burnout happens when our demands outweigh our resources. What is demanding more time and energy than you have?

9. General dissatisfaction

If you feel dissatisfied at home or in relationships on top of some other signs of burnout, your burnout could be more severe.

You might feel dissatisfied or even stuck when it comes to whatever is going on at home, in the community or with your social activities, Dr. Ballard says.

The solution:

Look back at our solution to burnout sign number two, lack of motivation (listed in part one). Cultivate a rich non-work life and ignite your passion again.

10. Health problems

When your body starts changing because of chronic stress, it’s time to take action.

Over a long period of time, serious chronic stress can create real health problems like digestive issues, heart disease, depression and obesity.

The solution:

If your body is showing severe symptoms of burnout, take a hard look at where you’re at. Perhaps you have too much on your plate.

Organize your Social Work licensing exam prep materials in your calendar to create time for studying. Include rest in your calendar. This will allow you to focus on one thing at a time and potentially increase your performance.

Figure Out When Enough is Enough […] “I do think there are times when, no matter what you try to do, the organization is unable or unwilling to make those changes,” Dr. Ballard says, “and in those cases, it is just time to move on.”

Remember your goals and do what it takes to get there. Then, strip the things that are hindering that. If passing the Social Work licensing exam is a passionate goal of yours and burnout is getting in the way, think about what is causing your burnout and consider what is worth letting go of.