How to Avoid Burnout
Summer is coming to a quick end and we look back and wonder where did the time go? It was a really busy summer including the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., and for those of us in New York a multitude of critical proposals that were due in August. At Iris House we also opened a new office in Plainfield,New Jersey, and you can only imagine the amount of work that constitutes. When does it slow down or does it? I have found that there is no slow period as there are in some industries or trades. My friends in finance always know the end of the quarter and end of the fiscal year are always crazy so they use their time wisely to be prepared for their busy periods. However, in social services there is no downtime as there are always people in need, services to be delivered or crises to be averted. So how do we rejuvenate and get ourselves ready for the fall and avoid burnout all at the same time?
Recently I heard a pastor give a sermon on the need to find leisure time to do the things you enjoy in order to ‘be a better you’. He couldn’t be more right. We have to find time to fit in things we enjoy while doing the work we are intended. I used to love playing tennis and played for seven years between middle and high school but could never find the time again once I began my career. I realized last year that I truly missed playing regularly, needed a workout I enjoyed and I also needed to expand my social circle. So why not get all of that doing something I love? I finally said yes to being on a USTA Tennis team and committed myself to not only being on the team but also improving my game. This meant leaving the office on Mondays and Tuesdays before dark to get to practice and matches. I had to say no to after work events and meetings or delegate someone else to go for me. I was finally able to say yes to me. Tennis helped me have something fun to do outside of work and has become a great stress reliever and way to avoid burnout.
We all deal with a lot of stress in our lives whether from work, family, community or environment. We have to determine ways we incorporate leisure time to do the things we enjoy in order to be effective at doing the things we have been called to do. I truly believe that I was called by some force higher than me to teach others about HIV, to help those living with HIV and to educate women and girls on how to prevent HIV. But I must balance my work with some fun. Fall is around the corner, how are you rejuvenating yourself?
Executive Director, Iris House
Board Member, National Women and AIDS Collective