snapshot of burnout

Child Welfare is a helping profession that can lend itself to burnout. It is easy to get overwhelmed and stuck in a “just surviving” situation. This article aims to tackle common burnout situations and ways to get out of the “just surviving situation”. 

As a child welfare worker, is there someone you can ask for help? Maybe you have asked yourself some of the following questions:

“My caseload is so big right now, I’ve stayed late the last few days, and I haven’t done the dishes in 2 weeks, can you talk to me while I do it?”  

This very real problem is multifaceted. One step potentially out of your control is how big your caseload is which bleeds into your homelife. Consider using these studies when asked to take on more or to advocate for yourself.

Sometimes having a friend with you while doing a hard task or the task while after a tough work week can make all the difference. Friends can be in the room besides you or simply talking to you on the phone. They can help to distract you from the bad while you complete the thing you’ve been avoiding. It can also keep you accountable to have a person’s voice on the phone.

“I’m having a difficult time not thinking about work (including client and family outcomes) outside of work hours.”

Ask your supervisor or colleague for their advice and if you feel comfortable. Leaning into your supportive connections is critical to avoiding isolation and to get validation from professionals who understand what you are going through.

Develop a process to intentionally transition from your work self to your personal self on your way home. For example, choose a landmark you drive by that represents the turning point where you will start to shed your work self.

Another option is to find an activity that forces you to be present. Do this activity when you feel these thoughts creeping up. For example, playing a team sport makes it hard to think about anything else and your body is busy. Talking to a friend while walking outside could also potentially work. 

Additionally, when it comes time to leave the office, leave email and laptop there but also make an intentional to do list. This is a to-do list that will start your day tomorrow and is supposed to clear your brain. If a pesky work thought comes into your mind, say “I wrote this down in my to do list, I have it handled, It is important to me and I won’t forget” rather than allowing thoughts to spiral and take up space. Repeat these phrases as many times as it takes and it will get easier. Depending on your preference, your to-do list can also have migrations. If something isn’t finished, instead of checking things off, you are able to place a line through the task and an arrow for tomorrow. 

“I’ve tried so many things, but I still feel stuck.”

Consider therapy as an option to build more coping skills unique to you. 

Consider asking a supportive supervisor or colleague for help and loop them in.

Explore what others think about feeling stuck, like this article: 7 ways to climb out of a slump

Further reading about burnout and stress in child welfare: