Whether you’ve heard it in team meetings or felt it yourself, burnout is a prominent concern for most of us today. When you work in a frontline role that regularly takes a lot of emotional investment, burnout is a daily risk.

Alexis is a Community Support Worker at Fernie and has worked with us on the frontlines for the past 6 years. She has developed a few techniques that promote her mental health and allow her to show up in her life as the best possible version of herself.

1. Schedule manageable daily tasks

As a Community Support Worker for youth in conflict with the law, Alexis has no shortage of clients needing her help. She could meet with 20 clients in a day and still have dozens more waiting, but she would never be able to give each of those 20 youth the attention, planning, and follow-through that they need from her.

Alexis limits her schedule to two planned client meetings per day with availability for new referrals or anyone with urgent needs. This way, she can review her notes from their last meeting, prepare and be present for their conversation, and follow through on the help that they need from her. She can manage all of this work without taking away from the time we need as individuals to refill our own cups.

2. Set boundaries in professional relationships

Explaining her role in the youth’s journey and her limitations may not seem like an obvious task that helps prevent burnout, but it’s become vital to her mental health. As a Community Support Worker, Alexis works with colleagues, probation officers, community members, clients, and her clients’ families. By completing the work within her domain as a Community Support Worker and not drastically overlapping with another role, Alexis can manage her time and clients without becoming overwhelmed with work that wasn’t hers. By drawing clear boundaries on what she can and can’t do, Alexis isn’t stretching herself to replace other needed areas like a counsellor or parent.

3. Leave work at work (even if we work from home sometimes)

We have been available 24/7 to everyone we’ve ever known for the last two years. It’s no surprise that it became unsustainable very quickly for most of us. Alexis created a daily shut-off time to disconnect and make uninterrupted time for herself. At 5 pm, she shuts off technology and turns her attention to the supports that promote her well-being. Whether cooking or going to church, she makes an active effort to leave work at work.

We all have hard days, and it can take a toll on Frontline workers in social services. It’s important to remind ourselves what we can do and protect our well-being by stepping away from what we can’t. After challenging moments, Alexis reminds herself that she can’t help everyone and can’t change anyone; all she can do is show them the available paths.

Burnout can happen and be prevented differently for everyone. Do you have different tactics to promote work-life balance? Please share them with us in the comments!

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