The risk of working in a pre-school: burnout syndrome
The teaching profession can be exhausting. Moreover, if you are suffocating under the stress of work overload and workplace conflicts for a long time, you are heading towards burnout.
Burnout syndrome is a state of absolute exhaustion from chronic stress. It creeps into your life and gradually drains you so that you are unable to function on a personal or professional level.
Eliška Kubovcová from the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice investigated the risk of burnout syndrome in kindergarten teachers in her bachelor thesis. She conducted semi-structured interviews with 14 female respondents from kindergarten teachers aged 23-60 who have experience with burnout syndrome. What conclusions did she reach?
Symptoms of burnout syndrome
The respondents described feeling apathetic or, on the contrary, irritable, losing their vigor and desire to do anything, unable to concentrate and finish things, tired and yet suffering from insomnia, and various health problems.
“It was mainly a feeling of considerable inadequacy and utter futility in everything I do. At a certain stage, I didn’t even have the strength to do ordinary things anymore. What I used to do left-handed was suddenly a huge problem.” L. Ř.
Their original enthusiasm for the work in the kindergarten had died out and there was nothing to rekindle it. Motivation, interest and joy were gone. Most of the respondents who had experienced burnout were disgusted with working with children. As a result, some of them preferred to leave the teaching profession altogether.
“It’s a job I used to love and now I hate. […] Just looking at the photos from kindergarten makes me sick to my stomach. […] I have absolutely no idea what to do with children. And what’s more, I don’t enjoy it. I’m sick of making things up. I don’t even like the kids anymore. I don’t like their behavior and emotional outbursts.” T. P.
Causes of burnout syndrome
How does one ever get into such a state? One might assume that the older the age and the longer the experience, the greater the risk. But as research has shown, burnout syndrome can also develop in young teachers at the start of their careers.
The causes lie elsewhere and are much more individual.
The interviews with the respondents revealed that the risk factors include:
- a tendency to self-sacrifice,
- work overload,
- lack of appreciation from colleagues, management or parents,
- workplace conflicts.
“Everything was up to me. […] Many times I didn’t even get to go to the bathroom, let alone eat in peace. I think it was due to my need to have everything perfect. And I couldn’t say no.” L. O.
Teachers who felt satisfied, looked forward to work, had a good work team, did not overwork and were able to relax, knew the burnout syndrome basically only from hearsay or from training. Burnout syndrome especially affected those respondents who were exposed to a disproportionate workload for a long time. They had no time to rest and pursue their own hobbies, all their free time was taken up by overtime and homework.
Those respondents who were unlucky enough to have bad relationships at work were also more prone to burnout. Their path to total collapse was paved by conflicts with colleagues, criticism from school management, bullying at work, or emotional exhaustion from working with children and communicating with their parents.
How to explain to parents that the kindergarten is not a playroom, but an institution of preschool education, you can read in the article Teacher, not babysitter, please.
Prevention of burnout syndrome
Respondents who recognized the warning signs early on and took action were not affected to a greater extent by burnout. In contrast, those who failed to identify what was happening to them for a long time are now facing serious consequences. They have lost their sense of purpose, have had to be hospitalized, and are being treated for social phobias.If you feel like you’re at risk of burnout, don’t let it go that far.
Focus on prevention:
- Awareness of the problem
Even if you feel like it doesn’t affect you, become familiar with the nature of burnout syndrome. You’ll then be able to recognize its accompanying symptoms and pull the emergency brake in time.
- Quality interpersonal relationships
Cultivate good relationships in the workplace. At the same time, for the sake of your work, don’t forget those you love and who can support you in difficult times.
- Time to relax
Your overall well-being is essential. Slow down and take a break. Get plenty of rest and sleep, take up hobbies and exercise.
- Psychohygiene techniques
Learn simple psychohygiene techniques and learn to work with stress. Try breathing exercises, notice the present moment, practice gratitude and think of yourself.
- Awareness of the problem
You can learn about the concept of mindfulness in the interview How to have a calmer classroom through mindfulness.
Don’t underestimate the warning signs and take care of your mental health.
You must not burn out in order to keep giving your children warm smiles.
20. 6. 2023 | Martina Zatloukalová