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Q&A: Tips for dealing with burnout

Mental Health | May 17, 2021
Young professional woman stares at laptop with defeated look.
How can I tell if I have burnout and what can I do about it?

Before 2020, burnout might have been experienced mostly by those with demanding jobs or exceedingly difficult life circumstances.

Now, the perfect storm of pandemic conditions has driven many to feelings of burnout.

Many of us are working remotely, getting little regular social interaction, juggling online schoolwork, making socially distanced shopping trips, keeping the family fed and sanitizing the house all while nervously tracking the spread of the disease and dealing with ever-changing rules, racial injustices and grief. It’s too much for anyone to handle all that well.

If you think you’re burned out, you probably are.

Symptoms of burnout include:

  • Exhaustion (physical, emotional, and mental)
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Decreased sense of accomplishment
  • Depersonalization
  • Lack of motivation and productivity
  • Lack of interest
  • Negativity or even callousness

Burnout happens when you use more of your energy on things that don’t give you energy in return; experience a lack of control, absence of fairness and conflicting values; and, when you get stuck in an emotion.

You’re smart to recognize your feelings. It’s the first step in taking action to care for your overall health.

Here are some actions you can take to start getting back to a better state of well-being:

  1. Decide each day how and on what to spend your limited amount of baseline energy.
  2. To build back your energy levels, take frequent breaks throughout the day.
  3. Spend time in nature, even just your own backyard.
  4. Reduce your exposure to the news and/or social media, which can further drain you.
  5. Avoid using alcohol, drugs, smoking or other unhealthy habits of coping. They often have long-term side effects and ultimately make things worse.
  6. Ask for help. When daily or weekly chores become overwhelming, see if a friend or family member would be willing to pitch in.
  7. Seek professional counsel. Your primary care provider or a counselor can offer guidance on how you can manage your symptoms.

This healthy living tip comes courtesy of Camille Moreno, PsyD.

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