What is Burnout?

Burnout is a state of exhaustion caused by prolonged stress often due to being overworked. You may be experiencing burnout if you feel perpetually drained, have a lack of motivation or interest in things you normally care about or enjoy, are irritable, have frequent headaches or muscle pains, use food, alcohol, or drugs to numb yourself, etc. Burnout often results in feeling emotionally blunted, leads to disengagement from important parts of your life, and detachment from others. It can also cause feelings of hopelessness and lead to things like depression.


Who is at Risk for Burnout?

People who do not have enough time to relax, lack close relationships, are not involved in meaningful activities, and engage in inadequate self-care are at risk for burnout. Being high-achieving, perfectionistic, or Type A, can also make people suspectable to burnout.


How Does it Differ from Stress?

Burnout differs from stress in that stress is typically considered to be more immediate or short-term, whereas burnout occurs when stress becomes chronic.


Ways of Managing Burnout

1. One of the most important things to do to manage burnout is reaching out to others for support, such as a partner, family, or friends, even coworkers. If you are lacking supportive relationships, set an intention to cultivate them.


2. Engage your values by connecting with a cause or a community that is important to you. This could be a social justice issue, a group with a shared interest, a religious organization, or even a work-related organization.


3. Even if your job is a major source of stress, try to find something positive or something you value about it, even if it is socializing with coworkers.


4. Work towards finding more balance in your life. Work isn't 100% of life; if that seems to be the case for you cultivate other areas of your life including relationships with family and friends as well as making time for rest, relaxation, and recreation.


5. Practice self-care including getting adequate sleep.


6. Consider adopting a yoga or mindfulness practice, even if very brief.


7. If you are someone who is high-achieving, perfectionistic, or Type A practicing self-compassion may be especially important.


8. Establish boundaries particularly with people that are difficult or demanding of your time and learn to say no so that you have time for the things you are actually invested in. You might also establish boundaries for yourself; for example, not checking e-mail or taking calls after a certain time.


9. Set aside time to relax and engage in hobbies or interests.


10. TAKE TIME OFF! Go on a vacation, use your sick leave, or ask for a temporary leave of absence.


11. Adopt a healthy diet by limiting sugars, refined carbs, and tans fats. Make sure you are eating omega-3 fatty acids. Also, make sure not to rely on substances like caffeine or nicotine to speed you up and alcohol or cannabis to slow you down.


12. Exercise! If you can, aim for 30 minutes per day, but if that is not realistic aim for something achievable like a 10-minute walk.

If you are interested in learning more or in working with me please go to my homepage to contact me or schedule your free 15-minute phone call.


Please note that the information in this blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for psychological or medical care.  If you are looking for professional help, visit my resources page for guidance on how to find a therapist.  If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest ER.

© 2020 Carissa Gustafson, Psy.D.  All rights reserved.