Menu

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Avoiding Burnout

submitted by Peg Balachowski, Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning at Everett Community College

I know it’s only week 2 of the quarter at our college, but somehow Spring Quarter is when most faculty seem to get that “burned out” feeling. In the Pacific Northwest, the spring can be wet, dark, and kind of gloomy, perhaps contributing to that feeling. There are other contributing factors as well, including the increased workload that comes with campus initiatives, new projects that we’re adding to a class, the increased number of young students in our classes who may feel a certain entitlement and who, as I recently heard from an administrator, demand our immediate attention both in the classroom AND online. Nothing like being on-call 24 hours a day!woman head down on crumpled papers next to notebooks and pens

One of my favorite educational bloggers, David Gooblar (writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education), writes: “ a 2014 study of depression, stress, and anxiety among non-tenure-track faculty in the United States discovered something strange: Among the faculty surveyed — in both part-time and full-time positions — the more committed they were to their institutions, the more likely they were to experience high levels of workplace stress, and to experience depression, anxiety, and stress more generally.”

Not great news, especially as faculty at most colleges are always being asked to do more.  Are there ways to avoid burnout (or to deal with it if you are feeling it already)? Gooblar offers 4 tips:

  1. Take time off, if only for an evening.
  2. Remember that your job is a job — even if you love it. 
  3. Find ways to say no.
  4. Choose sleep over extra class-prep time. 

You may read these tips and think, “I’ve got grading! I have committee meetings! I have to prep for tomorrow’s class!” Yes, all that’s true, and we are not recommending that you abandon all those responsibilities in favor of extra sleep or taking EVERY evening off. Remember that your college has resources, and Gooblar reminds us, “don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’ve got friends, family, and colleagues who can help. If you’re feeling stressed and emotionally exhausted, it’s for good reason — most likely you care about your job and believe in the importance of doing it well. But there’s no benefit to running yourself into the ground. Let people around you know when you’re feeling low, and offer words of understanding and support when you see colleagues struggling to balance it all. If you worry that you’re burning out, you can safely assume that others around you are, too. Share your burden and it will start to feel lighter.”

I encourage you to take several minutes to read the entire article in the Chronicle. Choose one of the 4 tips recommended by Gooblar and see how it works.  Be sure to close your eyes and breathe; move away from your desk (and that pile of papers to grade) for a few minutes; as the weather improves start taking a 10-minute walk across your campus at least once a day. And encourage your students to do the same. It’s likely they are feeling some burnout as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment