Energy Practice Burn Out: Stop It in Its Tracks

(by Lori Chortkoff Hops, PhD, DCEP) Are you experiencing burn out in your energy practice work? 

Maybe you’ve been noticing increased exhaustion, inefficiency, or growing cynicism related to your work life, three hallmarks of burn out. Don’t let these influences rob you of your peace and happiness. You owe it to yourself to make improvements –  for you, and for the sake of your clients. Know that you are not alone, as work-related stress is on the rise recently. There are practical and immediate things you can do to address this problem, even before it becomes entrenched, using energy practices to assist you. 

The Problem of Burn Out

The Mayo Clinic defines work related stress as physical or emotional exhaustion, reduced sense of accomplishment, and loss of personal identity. 

Although not an officially recognized diagnostic condition, the commonly used term of job burn out has negative consequences on the body with increased risk of insomnia, heart disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. Emotional impacts of burn out may present as feelings of anxiety, depression, anger and irritability. Mental effects may arise with a lack of belief in the self, diminished achievement potential, or perceptions of incompetence. Some may engage in substance use and unhealthy escapism as temporary solutions to try to feel better, which can later lead to more problems. 

Energy Practice Risk Factors

The very things that make an energy practice attractive and unique, may also be associated with an increased risk of burn out on the job. Energy practitioners work in deeper psychological states than the average therapist, often accessing subtle energy systems in addition to paralinguistic and non-verbal communication. The invisible impact of what is not seen, said or acknowledged can take a toll on the energy worker. Meanwhile, the energy practitioner is aware of their own complex energetic reactions, increasing the volume and impact of what transpires inside and between work sessions. These risk factors are coupled with those of a general therapy practice. Simply working in health care is a risk factor by itself. Other risk factors known to therapy practices are working in social isolation, having to keep secrets, sitting for long hours in front of the computer or in person, while deeply concentrating on sometimes graphic, heavy and dark life problems. Other causes of burn out, common to many work environments and also experienced by energy practitioners, are work life imbalances, working long hours, unclear job expectations, or lack of control over structure and function of work-related activities. 

Energy Practice Protective Factors

There are qualities of energy practices which may protect you from burnout and reverse the trend. Burn out signals that your mind and body are working outside healthy boundaries of functioning. Energy practices are designed to immediately reestablish mental and physical calm, focus and adaptive functioning. Practice them enough, and you will move from flight, fright and freeze responses to stress, to a here and now grounded awareness which is stable and resilient in the face of new stressors. Daily practice between sessions helps you, as does using these techniques in session with your clients, when distressing material is likely to be discussed and experienced. Not only are you taking care of yourself, so you can be calm for your clients, but you are helping your client reduce their stress, and model how to handle new stressors when they arise. 

Don’t Let Them Get You Down!

After you notice, or others point out that you are starting to experience burn out, it’s time to stop it in its tracks. Acting right away when you notice signs that you are off your game, will hopefully lower your risk of burn out altogether. Here are some tips for self-care you may find useful.

  1. Pay attention to the needs of your body by providing adequate sleep, naps, good nutrition, frequent breaks from work, engaging in relaxing activities, and exercise. 
  2. Have a dedicated attractive workspace that makes you feel relaxed and productive. Create a “commute time” even when working at home, by engaging in enjoyable transition time activities between work and home life hours. Better yet, get away from it all for an hour, an afternoon, or take a proper vacation.
  3. In the mental realm, evaluate your needs, desires and goals in writing, or share your thoughts with a trusted person, including work supervisor or mentor. You can brainstorm to change expectations, timelines for deliverables, and reprioritize goals. Practice good boundaries, even if it means disappointing others. Define what gives your work meaning and purpose and see if it aligns with what you are actually doing. If not, make some changes. 
  4. Seek nurturing social support from friends, colleagues and family, and don’t forget the healing role of playing with companion animals and regular immersion in nature’s flora and fauna. 
  5. Secure medical care if you need it. Don’t wait for serious (or any) symptoms to take up residence in your being, and if they have, listen to the messages they are offering you sometimes in the form of metaphor, and find healthier solutions. Consider hiring a coach, therapist, or energy practitioner to work with you, helping reverse the effects of burn out.
  6. You can turn to spiritual sustenance in whatever form suits your needs. 
  7. If you tend to give good stuff to others, turn it around and agree to receive, maybe even more than is at first comfortable for you. Call in your better angels, in whatever form or state they emerge.
  8. Use the energy practices you share with your clients on yourself. Want to expand your self-help energy toolkit? Read on!

ACEP Can Help You Bloom

Resources for Resilience videos can help you enhance your energetic hygiene, reduce stress, alleviate depression and quell a nasty temper. Go here and follow along, with downloadable instructions and multiple language offerings in downloadable brochures

Join ACEP Local and Regional Groups for collegial support, education, shared vision and some fun. Find people in your area to discuss professional issues, learn more about energy psychology and connect. Some of these groups meet online. 

Join ACEP! Become a member to join our vision of bringing energy psychology into the world to alleviate suffering, through education, scholarship, research, ethical practice, humanitarian outreach, lobbying, fund raising, and being represented by a professional body of like-minded practitioners

Want more? Delve deeper into self-care and wellness practices to stave off burn out by following suggestions in my ACEP blog “Using Energy Practices When Life is Like a Marathon.”  

Author

Lori Chortkoff Hops, PhD, DCEP is a licensed psychologist in Westlake Village, California, USA. She is certified in Comprehensive Energy Psychology and Logosynthesis. Lori is president of ACEP (www.energypsych.org), and is a Reiki master. Learn more about Dr. Hops at www.drlorihops.com.  You can visit her Facebook page for A Tip A Day for Wellness Program at Facebook.com/Lori.Hops.

Photo by Holzfigur

Comments

  1. Thank you Lori. This was very thought-provoking and helpful and it resonated with me. I appreciate you teasing apart and articulating all the ways in which we energy workers engage and serve, beyond what we say and do. It is a timely remind for me to print off your long list and get serious about doing more of them.

    • Thank you Susanna Grace, for your thoughtful comments on the importance of taking care of ourselves while we care for others. I celebrate with you as you find fun and relaxing ways to take care of yourself! Looking at the list on a regular basis is a wonderful tip in itself.

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