Pretty much every working woman struggles with burnout. But as a psychotherapist and body positivity advocate, Ashlee faces a unique challenge: How do you balance setting boundaries and prioritizing self-care with providing critical mental health services?
“In the helping professions, navigating burnout culture and compassion fatigue is high on the agenda,” Ashlee says. “Yet meeting the demand for services in an overloaded system is a priority.” In one of her first positions as a therapist, Ashlee found herself conforming to fatigue-causing workplace norms like working through lunch breaks and feeling pressured to take on more clients.
Eventually, she realized that in order to be her best self, she needed to challenge those expectations. “I went against the trend and advocated for my needs — not by standing up to an external voice of authority but by challenging my internal voice that encouraged me to conform to burnout culture to feel a sense of acceptance.”
That meant putting her own mental health on the agenda: “I made a daily commitment to take my full lunch break away from my desk, say ‘no’ to my supervisor when I knew I was at capacity, and use some of my admin time to do something creative.”
Finding space within each workday to recharge, and saying “no” when needed, may spark larger changes, too: “If you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask yourself, has this workplace culture ever been questioned? Sometimes all it takes is one person to say, ‘Hey, this is harming all of us,’ to start a conversation about change.”