mental health minute

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The North Dakota Department of Human Services Behavioral Health Division is sponsoring a series of four short sessions on mental health. Mental Health Minute is an ongoing series touching on different aspects of mental wellness from self-care, guided meditation, how to retain hope, and more. They are broadcast on Wednesdays at noon through May 5th for 30 minutes and designed to be a mid-week source of mental wellness support and encouragement. The first session on April 7 focused on burnout and was hosted by Bobbi Hanson, Crisis Counselor at Project Renew.

After introducing herself, Hanson first defined burnout and its 12 stages. Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress. Burnout happens most often with work but can also appear in parenting, caretaking, relationships, etc. While stress is short-lived and tied to specific situations, burnout stems from long-lasting stress that gives you the feeling of emptiness and hopelessness. The 12 stages were defined, and Hanson gave examples from personal experience.

1. The compulsion to prove oneself.

2. Push to work harder.

3. Neglecting personal needs, friends, family, sleeping, eating.

4. Displacement of conflict. We know what we’re doing isn’t right, but we’re unable to see the source of the problem.

5. Revision of your value system. Our intense focus becomes the new value system for us, and we start to become emotionally blunt.

6. Denial of emerging problems.

7. Withdrawal from social situations, use of alcohol or drugs, feelings of hopelessness.

8. Obvious behavioral changes noticed by others.

9. Loss of contact with self, like an observer of your own life rather than a participant.

10. Inner emptiness sets in. Not happy, not sad, just empty.

11. Depression sets in. You may have angry outbursts, weight gain or loss, lack of hygiene, reckless behavior, and skipping work, school, or social events.

12. Burnout Syndrome. Physical and emotional collapse needing immediate medical attention. In extreme cases, suicide may occur.

Burnout occurs when we are not in control of how we get our jobs done at work or at home, when we lack support, if our jobs don’t reflect our true callings, and if we don’t take care of ourselves. The effects of burnout are physical and mental exhaustion; dreading going to work; becoming cynical, angry, and irritable; and losing compassion while working in healthcare or other customer service jobs.

Emotional intelligence can make the difference why one person experiences burnout and another does not. Emotional intelligence includes three skills: emotional awareness, the ability to identify your own emotions, and the ability to embrace those emotions and apply them to problem solving. Emotional intelligence can be learned.

Hanson finished the presentation with the ABCs of Self-Care: Awareness, Balance, and Connection. We need to be Aware of our stress levels and what we are thinking and feeling. We need to Balance work and personal life. We need to stay Connected to our friends and family through stress and remember what brings us joy in our lives. Finally, if you see someone exhibiting signs of burnout, ask how you can help.

There are four more sessions, and you can register for them separately. The easiest way to register is through Facebook which will take you to Eventbrite to sign up. Search Mental Health Minute in Facebook and look for the one by Behavioral Health Division in Bismarck, ND. Scroll down to details, and you will see a link to sign up. The event uses Eventbrite for the tickets and Microsoft Teams for the presentation. It helps to have the Eventbrite and Microsoft Teams apps (both are available in the App Store) on your computer or device. Once registered, you will get emails from Eventbrite to view and join the event.

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