Self-care is important in fighting the effects of burnout — CSMC webicon

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WHETHER we work or learn from home, a situation forced upon many Filipinos due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and with all the workload and other forms of stress everyone encounters every day, they may not be able to escape the effects of burnout.

During the latest Cardinal Santos Medical Center (CSMC) webicon titled “BEAT IT: A Webicon on the Different Self-Care Strategies to Combat Burnout,” the hospital hopes to educate Filipinos on the importance of self-care and how they can fight the effects of burnout.

Ma. Araceli Balajadia-Alcala, a clinical psychologist with 20 years of experience, discussed the physical, behavioral, and emotional barriers that lead to burnout, as well as what can be done to address and prevent it.

Balajadia-Alcala spoke about what burnout was, how it has affected many individuals but most especially those who are working in the medical field as frontliners during the pandemic, and what can be done to prevent or treat it.

She cited the World Health Organization’s definition of burnout, which it called as the result of stress that has not been properly managed or addressed. She noted that the hallmark symptoms of burnout include loss of interest in work and in things one used to enjoy in their personal life. “One can also feel physically drained, or they may notice that they have become very sickly, or have developed erratic sleeping patterns.”

She said that the body’s symptoms and emotions are very good signals when something is not going right, [and can] usually give a clue as to what is going on. “It’s not surprising that this is happening. Our bodies may be reacting negatively to the increased workload or responsibilities, so the symptoms we may be seeing [are a] result of that.”

Balajadia-Alcala recommended planning and taking time to pause as one of the best remedies for burnout. “A pause is not a full stop, nor is it an afterthought,” she stated. “There is an intentionality to it. Pauses are not just minor players in our daily lives. They are, and should be intentionally placed there, as integral as the work that we do.”

Present also as speakers were Mikaela Joie Pascual, an HR specialist from CSMC’s HR Division, and Ave Kay Balubar, CSMC’s Assistant Manager for Medical Affairs. Dr. Maria Naval Rivas, Head of CSMC’s Mental Health and Wellness Center, served as the moderator of the session.

Pascual talked about the hospital’s psychosocial support programs for their employees to help prevent or manage burnout, while Balubar shared her experience with burnout, and how CSMC’s program helped her deal with her mental health struggles.

For us to create a safe and comfortable environment for our employees and medical trainees, we needed to build a culture where everyone was accountable for their own health and safety,” Pascual said. “With the help of one of our psychiatrists, Dr. Lourdes Ignacio, we crafted a psychosocial well-being framework, which has served as our anchor in creating holistic programs for our people.”

Balubar, on the other hand, narrated, “I mustered the courage and registered for the hospital’s psychosocial wellness program [after] realizing and admitting to myself I needed help [for my burnout]. What was remarkable with that long session with Dr. Ignacio was how it made me feel unloaded. It made a big difference on how I handled my stresses and my anxieties.”

Through a Q&A session, the panelists also debunked several misconceptions regarding burnout, and stressed the importance of allowing oneself to feel emotions, normalize that it is okay to not be okay, and learn how to pause, or listen and empathize with someone who may be undergoing burnout.

My advice is, you really need to [know] your own standard,” Rivas said. “You know how you work, and you know your boundaries. Not saying yes to something that is beyond our boundaries is not an inadequacy. There should be a point where you can say ‘no’.”

As the hospital’s healthcare workers carry on with their mission of healing and saving lives, Cardinal Santos Medical Center pledged the continuity and improvement of their employee psychosocial support programs.

For more information about CSMC’s Mental Health and Wellness Center, as well as other programs and services that CSMC offers, visit, or like and follow them at Facebook,

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