Burnout is often mentioned, especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Burnout comes from prolonged stress over time, whether the stressors are mental, physical, or emotional. You have reached your limit. The stress and uncertainty related to our health, balancing work and home life, and the inability to plan can eventually lead to burnout. You may be experiencing burnout if you are exhausted most of the time, overwhelmed, feel empty or detached, or lack motivation.
Burnout is not inevitable and can be prevented, even during these uncertain times. One strategy is to connect with your social network. This network can be family, friends, and even coworkers. Another suggested approach is to take breaks and set a schedule, as best you can, for when you will work. Maintaining healthy lifestyle habits like exercising, healthy eating, limiting caffeine, and limiting alcohol is another way to prevent burnout.
If burnout does occur, although it may seem like there is nothing to be done, there are many coping strategies you can use. Many of these coping strategies are similar to what you can do for prevention, including maintaining social connections, managing your work-life balance, and following healthy lifestyle habits. Other ways to cope include finding aspects of your job that you enjoy and that give you purpose, taking a break from consuming the news, and setting aside time for yourself to relax and recharge.
Although it is possible to prevent and manage, burnout can sometimes lead to more serious mental health problems, like depression. If you feel like you are experiencing more than just burnout, contact your healthcare provider.
To read more about stress and mental health, check out these fact sheets: HGIC 4368, Stress Management and HGIC 4376, Coping with Stress and Mental Health
- Burnout prevention and treatment – HelpGuide.org. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/burnout-prevention-and-recovery.htm
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- Information, National Center for Biotechnology, Pike, U. S. National Library of Medicine 8600 Rockville, MD, B., & Usa, 2. (2020). Depression: What is burnout? InformedHealth.Org [Internet], Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279286/
- Queen, D., & Harding, K. (2020). Societal pandemic burnout: A COVID legacy. International Wound Journal, 17(4), 873-874. doi:10.1111/iwj.13441.
- Vinkers, C. H., van Amelsvoort, T., Bisson, J. I., Branchi, I., Cryan, J. F., Domschke, K., . . . van der Wee, Nic J.A. (2020). Stress resilience during the coronavirus pandemic. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 35, 12-16. doi:10.1016/j.euroneuro.2020.05.003