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Recovery from stress and burnout


Working in pharmacy can be very satisfying but it can also be very stressful. Members of the pharmacy team have experienced increased pressure over the last three years and there is no end in sight. Looking after ourselves has never been more important.


As a pharmacist or member of a pharmacy team, we often deal with people at their worst—when they may be very anxious or even frustrated and angry.


In addition, the systems are imperfect with changes to e-prescribing, shortages of many medications and the added work with introduction of vaccination services.


Plus, there never seems to be enough staff or time and there are ever-increasing demands for our services. When this stress is repeated day after day without adequate opportunities to replenish and recover, the inevitable outcome is burnout.


Burnout is aggravated by moral injury when resource limitations or system restrictions result in compromised or inadequate care being provided to our patients. So, what is needed to recover and heal after repeated exposure to a stressful environment? We may need to take time off work—even a prolonged period, to fully recover.

Liebherr Pharmacy Fridges


The following list is a toolkit for both recovery and prevention. Applying these interventions into our lives will not only help us to recover, but also help us to thrive.


01. SELF-AWARENESS

• Self-reflection

• Identify and acknowledge your emotions

• Do a body scan

• Keep a journal


02. SELF-COMPASSION

• Don’t be so hard on yourself

• Be realistic about what you can achieve

• Accept that there will be times when you fail

• Congratulate yourself when you do well


03. REST AND REFUEL

• Adequate sleep

• Rest that is not passive (e.g. reading, crosswords, puzzles and problem-solving)

• Nourishment with healthy food

• Manage caffeine intake and increase water consumption


04. PHYSICAL, MENTAL & SPIRITUAL HEALTH

• Regular health checks with your own GP

• Exercise, do something you enjoy

• Time outdoors in nature

• Mindfulness, focus on the task at hand

• Find meaning and purpose

• Engage with your spiritual beliefs


05. REVISITING VALUES

• What brought you to pharmacy and what gives you satisfaction at work?

• What are you passionate about?

• What are your life goals?

• What life balance do you want?


06. RELATIONSHIPS WITH FAMILY & FRIENDS

• A support network outside the workplace

• Meaningful personal relationships which are supportive

• Step away from toxic relationships which harm your self-worth

• Partner time (if applicable)

• Family time

• Spending time with your pet


07. BROAD INTERESTS OUTSIDE PHARMACY

• Hobbies and outside interests

• Team sports

• Creative pursuits

• Music and/or dance

• Have fun and be playful

• Holidays (separate from conferences)

• Travel


08. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND PERSONAL GROWTH

• Never stop learning

• Learning for enjoyment (e.g. a language or a musical instrument or a craft)

• Skill development

• Personal development

• Development of leadership skills


09. TEAMWORK AND SUPPORT FROM COLLEAGUES

• Huddles and handover with colleagues

• Debriefing

• Call out bad behaviour

• Support each other, say thank you and well done

• Treat each other with kindness


10. COMPASSIONATE PRACTICE

• Listen to each patient and acknowledge their preferences

• Focus on the needs of the individual

• Look at the whole person

• Value each patient and your relationship with them


It may not be possible to do all these things all the time, and self-compassion is important when putting this into practice. Acknowledge what you have achieved and what changes you have made and congratulate yourself.


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