Preventing Health Leader Advocacy Burnout

Becoming a Health Leader is a noble role that many passionate patients and caregivers take on to support those facing health challenges. But the demands and emotional toll of health leader advocacy can quickly lead to burnout.

What is burnout?

Burnout is a feeling of being completely worn out – physically and mentally – because of too much stress, work, or responsibility. In the case of advocacy burnout, a person feels like their energy and enthusiasm for their cause have run out. They might start to feel exhausted, overwhelmed, and even uninterested in things they used to enjoy.

Common signs of advocacy burnout

There are several signs of burnout that you can be on the lookout for.

Emotional exhaustion

A telltale sign of advocacy burnout is emotional exhaustion. Health Leaders may feel overwhelmed by the constant stream of challenges, setbacks, and heartbreaking situations they encounter.

Decreased empathy

Burnt out Health Leaders might find it harder to empathize with fellow advocates, patients, and families. The emotional drain can make it tough to connect with and understand the needs of those they are advocating for.

Chronic stress

When stress is constant, it can lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, difficulty sleeping, and digestive problems. If a Health Leader experiences these symptoms regularly, it may be a sign of burnout.

Decreased self-care

Patient advocates may neglect their own well-being. They may put their health and personal lives on the back burner to focus solely on their advocacy work.

Cynicism and negativity

Burnout can lead to a negative outlook on many aspects of the patient experience. Burnout can make Health Leaders doubt the impact they can make.

Reduced productivity

Burnout can hinder a person’s ability to accomplish tasks. They may find it hard to stay organized or maintain their usual level of productivity.

Alleviating Health Leader advocacy burnout

While burnout can take its toll, there are steps you can take to alleviate it.

Prioritize self-care

As a Health Leader, you are often putting others’ needs first. But make sure you take time for yourself. Engage in activities you enjoy, and make sure you get enough rest. Treat self-care practices just as you would an important meeting or task. Schedule it into your calendar if you have to. Recharging physically and emotionally is essential to do the important work that you do for your community.

Set boundaries

Clear boundaries are a must when it comes to any kind of advocacy work. It is okay to say no when you feel overwhelmed or stretched too thin. Having limits is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of self-awareness.

Seek support

Connecting with other patient advocates or seeking guidance from experts can provide emotional support. Discussing the challenges and emotions with others who understand can be very therapeutic. Be open and honest. Share that you are burnt out or that you are taking a break from your community. Others will understand and offer support.

Reconnect with your why

Reflect on why you started advocating for patients. What motivates you to be a leader in the online health space? Asking these questions can help you get back to your core mission.

How to prevent Health Leader advocacy burnout

Once you're in the midst of burnout, it can be challenging to dig yourself out. That's why prevention is so important. These strategies can help prevent burnout from getting in the way of your important advocacy work:

Balance work and personal life

It is important to maintain a balance between advocacy work and personal life. This means carving out time spent with loved ones, pursuing hobbies, and not letting advocacy consume all aspects of your life. A helpful way to do this is to set business hours for your advocacy. Limit your notifications, and set time limits on your social apps.

Don’t compare yourself

Try not to compare your pace or your progress to others. We are all at different stages in our journeys and overcoming different obstacles.

Delegate responsibilities

If you are part of an advocacy group or organization, delegate tasks and duties to other team members. Sharing the load can prevent one person from becoming overwhelmed.

Learn to say no

Recognize your limits and say no when necessary. Overcommitting can lead to burnout. So choose your advocacy projects and commitments wisely. Think of it this way: Saying no is saying yes to something better.

Check in with yourself regularly

Make it a habit to assess your well-being on a routine basis. Are you feeling drained? Are you taking care of your physical health? Self-assessment can help you identify signs of burnout early on.

Education and training

Consider attending workshops and training programs on stress management, emotional resilience, and self-care. These skills can help you cope better with the demands of advocacy work.

Don’t let burnout stand in the way of your advocacy efforts

Patient advocacy is a noble and vital pursuit, but it comes with its own set of challenges. Burnout is a genuine concern for advocates. It can be emotional and sometimes frustrating work.

Overcoming burnout is one of the most difficult yet essential skills for Health Leaders to have. Remember, taking care of yourself is not a selfish act. It is an essential one to ensure you can continue to support those in need.