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ATD Blog

5 Ideas to Manage Burnout

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

We all hear about burnout and have some idea of what it is. But then we ask how we could possibly be burned out if we have been working remotely. When there is no clear description to our current situation, the emotions can become even more overwhelming. Some of these emotions are incorporated in feeling burned out from work, home, life, and whatever is presently happening. As we travel along the path of burnout, we find our anxiety rising, our fears more prevalent, and our purpose having to be redefined. What we thought was important 18 months ago may now be viewed through a different lens. This requires change, and change is scary but also exhilarating. Let’s navigate this together.

The negative effects of burnout spill over into every area of life, including home, work, and social. Burnout can also cause long-term changes to your body that make you vulnerable to illnesses like colds and flu. Because of its many consequences, it’s important to deal with burnout right away.

Burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Increased mental distance from your job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to your job
  • Reduced professional efficacy

One of the largest problems when it comes to burnout is that many people feel ashamed for needing help, often because their work environments do not support slowing down.

People with symptoms of burnout may fear that taking time away from work or investing in self-care makes them weak and that burnout is best overcome by working harder. Neither of these is true.

Left untreated, burnout can cause folks to become depressed, anxious, and distracted, which can affect not only their work relationships but their personal interactions.

You may be on the road to burnout if:

  • Every day is a bad day
  • Caring about your work or home life seems like a total waste of energy
  • You’re exhausted all the time
  • Most of your day is spent on tasks you find either mind-numbingly dull or overwhelming
  • You feel like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated

Burnout is a gradual process. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it can creep up on you. The signs and symptoms are subtle then become worse as time goes on.

Here are five suggestions that may be useful to preventing or managing burnout:

1. Accept What Your Job Isn’t
If your job is to manage people, cases, or projects, keep your focus on that specific grouping. Try not to spread yourself too thin. Many times, 10 percent of the workforce does 90 percent of the work. Catch yourself when you find yourself doing so much work that an imbalance then occurs between your mental health and wellness. Keep your focus on what you do to get the satisfaction from your work. You are not defined by what you do but by who you are in one capacity of doing what you do. Once you accept what your job isn’t, it’s easier to accept what your job is.

2. Appreciate the Small Victories
Finding appreciation in the small victories can be applied in work and life situations. Take that moment to appreciate when something went right for you regardless of the magnitude of what was accomplished. Crossing a task off your to-do list is a small victory. These little things add up.


3. Evaluate Your Options and Seek Support
Discuss specific concerns with your supervisor. If you feel your work-life balance is out of sync, discuss these issues. Many new policies have been created to help maintain these balances. Support and collaboration may help you cope.

4. Try a Relaxing Activity or Exercise
Regular physical activity can help you. Research supports the effectiveness of embracing sensory-soothing activities to calm the nervous system and promote healing. Be intentional in taking time throughout the day to engage in sensory-soothing techniques such as listening to your favorite calming music or visualizing the places where you tend to feel at peace.

5. Get Some Sleep
Sleep restores well-being and helps protect your health.

Please join me on December 3, 2021, at noon (EST) for Tools to Navigate Your New World During Turbulent Times, a webinar that will help you gain some tools to navigate your new normal, help define purpose to be in your power place, and deal with post-pandemic burnout.

About the Author

Jean Kanokogi, Ph.D. is a senior special agent for the US Government with extensive experience in conducting criminal and administrative investigations. With a career spanning for over 23 years in law enforcement, Jean has been the lead investigator on several high-profile cases, some including the attacks on 9/11 and many that focus on protecting public health. She has researched and instructed as a subject matter expert in deception detection, cognitive interviews, rapport building, interview/interrogation methodologies offensive/defensive tactics and firearms safety and engagement. She authored numerous mental health and law enforcement related articles in various publications and professional journals. She holds a B.S. and M.S in Criminal Justice/Protection Management and a PhD in Psychology.

She dedicates her off-duty time as a volunteer for the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association where she is the Director of Mental Health and Peer Support Services. In this monumental and inaugural role, she is building a peer support program to augment what is already in place for other agencies, to offset the horrific suicide rates amongst the federal law enforcement community. She works daily to bridge the gap between law enforcement and mental wellness. Additionally, this role allows her to comment on bi-partisan bills that directly impact the mental health of law enforcement officers (LEO). She also serves as an Agency President which allows her to act as a liaison.

Jean was detailed to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) and during this detail, she helped develop course work and instructed over 5000 new and seasoned LEO’s in a myriad of topics, including crisis intervention, pre-assault indicators of the active shooter/active shooter response, multi-cultural interviewing, working with the developmentally disabled community, critical incident stress management, self-stress management and conflict resolution. She is a certified Department of Homeland Security FLETC Senior Instructor. Some has presented before foreign and domestic dignitaries as well as filled stadiums. Jean participated in studies with the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group. She is a trained law enforcement peer counselor and a graduate of the NJ State Police CIT training institute.

Jean has consulted on television program "Law and Order, Special Victim's Unit"; she is a story consultant to a pre-production documentary, was an associate producer for a motion picture. She is the co-author of, “Get up & Fight-The memoir of Rusty Kanokogi”; and she is a 5th degree black belt in judo. Jean was a member of the U.S. National Judo Team – winning medals for the USA in many international competitions. She is a respected and recognized judo Sensei.

Additional philanthropic work includes mentoring high-risk youths, motivational/engaging speaking and serving on the evaluation committee for the Rusty Kanokogi Scholarship fund managed by the Women’s Sports Foundation.

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