Stress and Burnout – A Paramedic’s Perspective Part 3

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Finding Your Joy

Welcome back everyone. I hope you all are having a fabulous summer filled with joy and happiness. If you have followed me on this three part series on stress and burnout, we have had a brief look at recognizing some of the signs and symptoms of stress that eventually lead to burnout and a brief look at some things you can do to limit your daily stress. For this post, and my final post in this series, I want to look at how we can Find Your Joy.

Sadly, there is no magical formula for finding your joy. I wish there were. You are going to have to work for it. What may be “my” joy likely is something entirely different for each of you. You have to go find what yours is and what it means to you to be joyful and happy.

As we get older, life just kind of takes over and before we really even realize what has happened to us, we are ten years or so down the road, probably not leading the life we thought we would, suffocating under pressures of work, bills, children or family, relationships, and all the other commitments that a typical life just requires. Along the way, many of us, me included, lose sight of what joy and happiness looks like. A life full of stress, commitments, worry, and lack of self-care, all contribute to loss of our joy.

What has worked for me in the past may not work for you. You have to know what makes you happy, and you have to actively do the things every day that make you happy. When I set out on this journey several years ago to win back my life filled with stress, anger, resentment, and general lack of interest in much of anything, it took me a great deal of time to gain back any sense of joy and happiness. Furthermore, you really have to work at it each day; not allowing things or people to steal your joy.

Since this series of blog posts really started with a relationship to workplace stress and how it manifests over long periods, I want to touch on one point that I see over, and over, and over in emergency services and other servant type jobs – Misguided Career Expectations. This could be an entire blog topic itself, however, I am only going to mention it because I just see it too often; particularly in the younger generation. Too many people come into a “serving” type career and within very short order are transformed into angry, resentful, miserable, and hateful people. Think strongly about your career choice. If you are in a servant type career and are struggling with lack of fulfillment, lack of joy, anger, etc. consider that maybe you are in the wrong type of work. Far too many people enter these types of careers with the expectation of daily thrill, exhilaration, making a difference on every encounter, but sadly, that just is not reality. The reality is that much of what happens in servant type careers is quite the opposite. Being content with the work you do is a huge factor in the amount of joy you experience in your daily life – start by making sure you do not have unrealistic career expectations.

If skewed career expectations is or is not part of what has causes us stress and loss of joy, ask yourself this questions. How do you identify your life? What I mean is, when your thoughts go to what is most important in your life, what does that look like for you? Is it immediately the work you do? Obviously, I cannot answer that for you. For me, when I lost sight of my joy and was consumed by stress that eventually led to some burnout, was that I identified myself too much with my work. I was not really guilty of misguided career expectations, however, I did rely far too much on my work to bring happiness to my life and that just did not happen.

What I did to steal back my joy – I learned how to do the things I mentioned in Part 2 of this series. I stopped letting others or my work become the center of my life. I refocused on what is really important in this life – God, family, myself, and being the kind of person I really wanted people to think I was/am. That is really it folks – find what is most important to you. Maybe it is your work and that is fine, but for many of us it is not. Work to live, not live to work. This life is a gift – win back your joy.

A few closing thoughts. Be joyful in hope! A joyful heart is good medicine! When anxiety is great within me, his consolation brought me joy.

I hope you all have at least taken something away from this series you can use in your life. If you are highly stressed and have lost your joy, figure out how to win it back. This life is far too precious to not live each day the best way possible. I am always available and would love to hear back from anyone with feedback, comments, or if you have a story to tell I’d love to hear it.

God bless you all and take care of yourselves.

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2 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this very well thought out post. I can see that your advice is born of years of experience and thoughtful reflection.

    The service industry truly is incredibly demanding, and the rewards are inherent for those who are well-suited. But, as you allude to, even those who find a great deal of satisfaction in caring for others risk “burnout” if we lose our identity and focus to our careers.

    Glad to be following!

    Liked by 1 person

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