Fighting Burnout

How to Avoid Burnout as an Aquatic Professional After the Summer

If you are an aquatic professional, you know how hectic and rewarding the summer season can be. You get to manage a large and diverse staff, oversee the operations of outdoor pools, and create memorable experiences for your guests. You also face many challenges, such as staff turnover, weather issues, safety incidents, and customer complaints. All of these factors can take a toll on your mental and physical health, and lead to burnout.

Every year, I have to submit a budget report with a mid-September deadline.

Producing the budget and planning for all the needs of next year requires a high level of motivation and focus.

But I’m tired. I’m drained. I’m exhausted after riding the adrenaline rush of summer’s activity.

I procrastinate, distract myself, and avoid the task as much as possible. I tell myself that I will do it later, when I have more time or inspiration. The deadlines loom and I’m smothered by desire to take a vacation, to go back outside and stare at the empty pool and wish the autumn air and crisp leaves were still the vibrant green filled with the noise of endless pool gutter drains.

As the deadline approaches, I start to feel pressured and stressed. I know that I have to finish the report, but I still struggle to get started. I feel overwhelmed by the amount of work and the lack of time. I feel anxious about the quality and impact of my work. I feel frustrated with myself for not being more proactive and efficient.

I try to force myself to work on the budget, but it feels like a chore. Every minute feels like an eternity. Every step feels like a hurdle. Every decision feels like a gamble. I can’t concentrate, I can’t think clearly, and I can’t make any progress.

Then I realize.

I’m burned out.

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It can affect your productivity, performance, and well-being. Some signs of burnout include:

  • Feeling tired, drained, or overwhelmed
  • Losing interest or motivation in your work
  • Becoming irritable, frustrated, or cynical
  • Having difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Experiencing physical symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, or illness

Burnout can be especially hard to cope with after the summer season, when you transition from a dynamic and fun environment to a more boring and solitary one. You may feel isolated, unappreciated, or stuck in a rut. You may also have to deal with administrative tasks such as budgets, planning, and reports that are not as exciting or rewarding as your summer activities.

So how can you avoid burnout as an aquatic professional after the summer? Here are three tips that can help you:

  • Take care of yourself. The first step to preventing burnout is to prioritize your own health and well-being. Make sure you get enough sleep, eat well, exercise regularly, and stay hydrated. These habits can help you boost your energy, mood, and immunity. You can also practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises to reduce stress and anxiety. Don’t forget to have some fun and enjoy your hobbies and interests outside of work. You deserve some downtime after a busy summer.

    Take that vacation. Build it into your end of season planning. Make sure that you get some time to recover. It’ll help when you return to face drudgery of school year recovery and cost analysis.

  • Seek support and feedback. Another way to avoid burnout is to reach out to others who can offer you emotional, social, or professional support and feedback. You can talk to your friends, family, or colleagues about how you feel and what you are going through. You can also debrief with your co-workers, former employees, or other stakeholders who have experience or interest in your work. They can help you reflect on your achievements, challenges, and areas for improvement. You can also join online or offline communities of aquatic professionals who can relate to your challenges and offer advice or encouragement.

    Talk with people about your summer. Chat with people that you worked with; swim team admins, summer camp supervisors, even your management staff. Get their feedback. Use their suggestions and conversation to invigorate you and make next year better! Be a vampire that drains their feedback and fuels you for the budget and planning to come in the cold winter months.

  • Set goals and learn new skills. A third tip to avoid burnout is to challenge yourself and keep learning new things. You can set realistic and attainable goals for yourself that can help you stay motivated and focused. For example, you can aim to improve your leadership skills, learn a new software program, or implement a new policy or procedure. You can also take advantage of online courses, webinars, podcasts, or books that can help you expand your knowledge and skills in the aquatic field. Learning new things can help you grow as a professional and keep your work interesting.

    Start planning that next certificate. Further your career by submitting bold training and education plans: CPR, AFO, CPRP, al the acronyms you can stuff behind your name. I jest here, but sometimes that motivation can reignite your desire to do the budget; you can reward yourself and others inside it by planning for more advanced training, and budgeting for it!
  • Find the fun again. Try to identify what was so fun and exciting about the summer and try to apply it to your job and requirements now when you’re struggling to do a crucial but important part of your Aquatic Professional life.

In conclusion, burnout is a common and serious problem that can affect your health, happiness, and performance at work. However, you can prevent or overcome burnout by following these tips: prioritize your own health and well-being, seek support and feedback from others, and set goals and learn new skills.

By doing these things, you can restore your passion and enthusiasm for your work and enjoy a more balanced and fulfilling life.

Remember that you are not alone in this journey and that there are many resources and people who can help you along the way. 

Better swimming.
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