Avoiding burnout in your first years of practice

Written by Alexandra McPhee | 24 March, 2021

avoiding burn out

Graduation and becoming a fully-fledged practitioner in the much anticipated ‘real world’ is such an exciting and nerve wracking time.

Mostly you’ll be too busy wondering about whether you will even have actual paying clients to think about what you’ll do when you start getting busy.

It’s not just the busy-ness of practice that can lead to burnout. In fact, being run off your feet with clients sounds kind of wonderful, don’t you think!?

It can be the more other less-spoken about parts of practice that can be more insidious. Some of these include:

  • The long hours researching
  • The self-doubt around whether you’ve chosen the best course of treatment
  • Wondering what to do next when the plan isn’t working
  • Managing client personalities, expectations and the emotions associated
  • Keeping up to date with the business side of things
  • Responding to emails and Instagram/Facebook/SMS messages
  • Struggling to switch-off from practice and business

I listed these points not so that you can begin to dread just how full on the first years of practice can be (it can also simultaneously be the best years of your life thus far!), but so that you can pay more attention to how you handle the many facets of the job. Being aware of just how much time, thought and energy that you put into your work will also help you decide best how to balance it all out.

I didn’t realise that what I was experiencing was actually burn out. That is, until I was at the end of a three week holiday and was looking back completely gob-smacked at how worked-up and depleted I was! Burnout can look like:

  • Procrastinating and putting off the things you know you want or need to do
  • Dreading going to clinic or facing another day of clients
  • Feeling not good enough because you’ve lost sight of how much amazing knowledge and expertise you actually have
  • Feeling anxious or overwhelmed
  • Wanting to numb out on the couch watching Outlander for three days straight
  • Feeling tired and lethargic despite sleeping well

My three biggest tips for preventing burnout in your first years of practice:

These are the things I wish that I had implemented from day dot.

Boundaries

Boundaries are essential. They protect your time, your energy and your ability to serve your clients. They also protect your clients from you wanting to dump them!

Boundaries can look like:

  • Only communicating with clients through email so that you can manage your time effectively (and won’t receive strange photos and requests for advice at all hours of the day and night)
  • Only checking your email during work hours
  • Finishing your sessions on time and resisting the temptation to over-deliver
  • Taking payment on booking so that you’re not chasing money after departing with your precious knowledge and advice

Mentoring

So much stress could have been avoided if I had invested in a mentor from the get-go! Even though 90% of the time you are on exactly the right track with your treatment, sometimes you need the reassurance of someone more experienced. They can also help with a lot of the non-treatment related questions that you may have around practice.

Fill your cup first

Always. You are the backbone of your practice. Without you, you have no practice and no business. Take care of yourself first and then you have the capacity to take care of others. Start your day by nourishing yourself with good food and by nourishing your soul with nature, exercise, relaxation, or an activity that brings you joy. This helps to keep you level headed, at your best for your clients and keeps your tank full.


Alexandra McPhee

Alexandra (Lexie) McPhee is an Endeavour College of Natural Health Alumni and qualified, practising Naturopath. Her special interests include writing, communication with the natural world, the history of medicinal plant use and creating her own herbal oils and salves. 

Read more by Alexandra McPhee

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