Summer is usually slower for most of us who work in an academic library. This time is used to assess, review, and plan for the coming year. However, how can this occur if you are experiencing burnout?
What is burnout? According to Merriam-Webster, burnout is “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.” Frequently, this leads to a lack of interest in day-to-day tasks. Unfortunately, most employers don’t care if you are dealing with this because you were hired to do your job. In this blog post, I want to discuss summer reflections, adjustments, and planning that can help with overcommitment, which can lead to burnout.
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Once I realized that I was experiencing burnout, I had to start saying NO a lot more. Also, I had to look at my calendar to see what commitments I made to finish those and commit to not taking on anything more.
Strategies & Support That You Should Consider to Help with Burnout
Getting a career coach was a pivotal movement because it helped me realize so much about my low morale experiences as a librarian. Kaetrena Davis-Kendrick has a Renewals Career Coaching Program, and it allowed me a space to be vulnerable and honest about my current and past work experiences. In this space, she told me that I was experiencing burnout. Before meeting with her, I thought I was doing an excellent job of keeping this experience at bay. I felt like burnout was this thing that was chasing me and that I was setting up roadblocks to keep it away from me—but it caught up to me. Therefore, I had to take the time to figure out how I got here. I figured it out, and now I am taking action to change my situation.
I have two friends I consider colleagues in this profession whom I can go to if I need help saying no or yes to an opportunity. Having someone who can hold you accountable is vital to your recovery or keeping burnout away. Think about who is willing to hold you responsible and reach out to them.
If you don’t have the support of your peers within your institution, consider finding that support outside the library, whether that be people at your institution or people within library organizations or associations. Furthermore, sometimes you can find peer support in book clubs, professional clubs, knitting clubs, etc. I am finding that my professional circle does not have to be with people that are librarians; there are other folks out there. If you haven’t found your people, use this summer to do so!
July is BIPOC Mental Health Month, so bringing awareness to the importance of mental health is essential. Outside of the month of July, seeking therapy helps ensure overall wellness. There are many resources out there to help you find a therapist. One of the good things that have come out of this pandemic is that virtual therapy sessions are now part of our norm, so that you can access a therapist for whom you are a good match.
Mentorship is helpful so that you can get advice on your ideas or plans. If you don’t have a formal mentor within your library, consider finding them through library organizations and associations; many of them have established mentorship programs. Remember that they are different types of mentorship relationships, and all of them can be beneficial to your success.
Enjoy Your Summer
Take time off! Use your vacation time to enjoy the outside and the people you feel safe around. We are still in this COVID-19 pandemic, but you can eat outside. Many of our town and city websites are updated with fun outside activities. Enjoy this time before the Fall semester.
Setting boundaries has been crucial. You can say no without explaining. Be consistent with self-care and wellness routines. You cannot be your best if you are not up to your best.
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I am looking forward to being on fewer committees, doing occasional presentations, and only doing my job responsibilities. So many times, I felt like I had to do over and above, but now I realize that I can do my job with excellence, and that is it. I need to take care of myself better so I can be around to enjoy my partner and my kids. I will stick to working 37.5 hours a week. Also, I will better execute my Re-Entry Plan and make some adjustments there.
Planning for the Year
Recovery is my biggest concern right now, not being productive. I have produced enough to be more intentional and strategic with my participation. Also, it is time to do things that bring me joy. I look forward to what the future holds. I plan to use the summer to assess how I did last year and make an outreach plan for the coming year. My biggest project is going to be weeding our nursing collection. I look forward to sharing that experience in a future blog post. During the summer, I like to take the time to read so that I can have the time to reflect on what I read to best utilize what I’ve read in future writing and even to execute these ideas in my life.
- The Comprehensive Guide to Resisting Overcommitment: Reclaim your agency in the workplace by Katrina Spencer
- How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community by Mia Birdsong
- Silos, Politics and Turf Wars: A Leadership Fable About Destroying the Barriers That Turn Colleagues Into Competitors by Patrick M. Lencioni
In conclusion, I hope you can continue to take care of yourself and have your support system build you up during this time. Below are some resources you can utilize to combat and recover from burnout.
- Job burnout: How to spot it and take action
- Reshma Saujani—Workplaces Are Burning Out Working Moms (podcast episode)
- LIS Mental Health
- When Passion Leads to Burnout by Jennifer Moss