Mental Health Minute: Signs and Symptoms of Burnout

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Welcome to the third article in our Mental Health Minute series dealing with caregiver burnout. Burnout happens over a long period of time. It sneaks up on us because we feel that stress is a normal part of life and we just “deal with it” rather than making changes to eliminate it. Eventually, however, the feelings and effects that burnout produces can catch up with us and our lives can be severely impacted as a result. Knowing the signs of burnout and paying attention to these signs can help prevent full blown burnout from occurring.

Physical signs and symptoms of burnout
• Feeling tired and drained most of the time
• Lowered immunity, feeling sick a lot
• Frequent headaches, back pain, muscle aches
• Change in appetite or sleep habits

Emotional signs and symptoms of burnout
• Sense of failure and self-doubt
• Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated
• Detachment, feeling alone in the world
• Loss of motivation
• Increasingly cynical and negative outlook
• Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment

Behavioral signs and symptoms of burnout
• Withdrawing from responsibilities
• Isolating yourself from others
• Procrastinating, taking longer to get things done
• Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope
• Taking out your frustrations on others
• Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early

Preventing Burnout
• Start the day with a relaxing ritual or any ritual at all. When you wake up to start your day, try to spend at least fifteen minutes meditating, writing in your journal, doing gentle stretches, or reading something that inspires you.
• Eat well, play well and sleep well. When you eat right, engage in regular physical activity, and get plenty of rest, you have the energy and resilience to deal with life’s hassles and demands. (for more information on the benefits of exercise, see Dr. Reeve’s and Jon Williams’ article on exercise in mental health).
• Set firm boundaries. Learn how to say “no” to requests on your time and actually say “no”. If you find this difficult, remind yourself that saying “no” allows you to say “yes” to the things that you truly want to do.
• Take a break from technology. Set a time each day when you completely disconnect. Put away your laptop, turn off your phone, and stop checking email. Maybe step outside to get some sun on your face and breathe in some fresh air.
• Don’t be afraid to or feel selfish taking care of yourself. Somehow we have it drilled in our minds, especially as caretakers, that taking care of ourselves is selfish. It is impossible to care for others, if you don’t care for yourself. Using positive self talk, tell yourself it is okay and force yourself to care for you too!

by Shannon Martin, Director of Eastside Psychiatric Hospital

Crisis Resources

Apalachee Center:
Evaluations & Admissions

850-523-3483 / 1-800-342-0774

Big Bend 211:
850-617-6333 / 850-921-4020 TTY (Hearing/Speech Impaired)

Suicide Prevention Hotline:
1-800-273-8255 (TALK)

Dial 911

Contact Information

Eastside Psychiatric Hospital is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Phone: 850-523-3300 Ext. 4340
Fax: 850-523-3425
2634 Capital Circle NE, Bldg. B
Tallahassee, Florida 32308

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