5 Ways to Deal with Burnout

Feeling exhausted?

Maybe even trapped and don’t see a way out?

Don’t have the energy to get out of bed and face the world?

Don’t worry, you are not alone! I have been there…


In this post I am going to discuss –

  • What is Burnout?
  • Where did the term “Burnout” come from?
  • What are the Signs and Symptoms of Burnout?
  • 5 Ways to Deal with Burnout

Let’s get started…


What is Burnout?

The burnout we are referring to can have different names. Some of these names include –

  • Job burnout,
  • Occupational burnout,
  • Work-related stress, or
  • Occupational stress.

We are going to use the term “burnout” to collectively describe these.

There are a number definitions on burnout, including –

  • “the condition of someone who has become very physically and emotionally tired after doing a difficult job for a long time” ~ Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  • “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration” ~ Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary
  • “emotional and physical exhaustion resulting from a combination of exposure to environmental and internal stressors and inadequate coping and adaptive skills. In addition to signs of exhaustion, the person with burnout exhibits an increasingly negative attitude toward his or her job, low self-esteem, and personal devaluation.” ~ The Free Dictionary
  • “Job burnout is a special type of job stress – a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.”~ Mayo Clinic
  • “Burnout is a type of psychological stress.” ~ Wikipedia
  • “Occupational burnout or job burnout is characterised by exhaustion, lack of enthusiasm and motivation, feelings of ineffectiveness, and also may have the dimension of frustration or cynicism, and as a result reduced efficacy within the workplace.” ~ Wikipedia
  • “state of mental and physical exhaustion caused by one’s professional life”Herbert Freudenberger


Where Did the Term “Burnout” Come From?

In relation to occupational stress, the term “burnout” was first used in the 1970s by American psychologist Herbert FreudenbergerFreudenberger used “burnout” to describe the consequences of severe stress and high ideals experienced by people who were working in “helping” professions (i.e. doctors, teachers, counsellors, nurses etc).

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Burnout?

There are many signs and symptoms that are associated with burnout, however the majority of them “…come from uncontrolled clinical observations or from interview studies with an impressionistic or unspecified analysis of data, rather than from rigorously designed and thoroughly conducted quantitative studies” (Schaufeli & Enzmann, 1998).

Some of the symptoms of burnout include –

  • Affective:
    • Anxiety,
    • Tearfulness,
    • Emotional exhaustion,
    • Increased tension, and
    • Undefined fears.
  • Cognitive:
    • Guilt,
    • Helplessness,
    • Loss of meaning and hope,
    • Feelings of powerlessness,
    • Poor self-esteem, and
    • Sense of failure.
  • Physical:
    • Headaches,
    • Nausea,
    • Dizziness,
    • Sleep disturbance,
    • Muscle pains,
    • Chronic fatigue, and
    • Loss of appetite.
  • Behavioural:
    • Procrastination,
    • High-risk behaviours (i.e. sky-diving),
    • Compulsive complaining,
    • Hyperactivity,
    • Impulsivity, and
    • Increased consumption of caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs and tranquilisers.
  • Motivational:
    • Loss of zeal,
    • Loss of idealism,
    • Resignation,
    • Boredom, and
    • Disappointment.


5 Ways to Deal with Burnout

Burnout is a chance to take time out to discover what is important to you and your own life. Subsequently, there are many ways to deal with burnout. Following are 5 –

1. Ask for help – 

Yes, I know this can be challenging for people who are often high-performing, love a challenge and have achieved a lot in their life, however it is an essential step. There are many myths associated with asking for help and you may need to transform these. When you are ready, find someone who can support you, who has had similar experiences and is qualified in this area (i.e. doctor, coach or professional).

2. Clarify your values and priorities – 

Discover what is important to you and then schedule these things in to your priorities. We all have 24 hours in a day, 168 hours per week, so it is important to know what is important to you. Some areas to start looking at include – looking at your current activities at work and your job description – do they match? or are your values in alignment with where you are spending your time? Do your current activities give you energy or drain your energy?

3. Start to take better care of yourself –

When was the last time you took time out for you? This can be anything from taking time out to have a massage, going for a walk on the beach or going to the movies. Any activity that gives you energy instead of depleting your energy!

4. Unplug – 

Technology can keep us connected to other people, however it can also drain our energy if we are on it for extended periods of time and don’t have clear boundaries around it. Make sure you create clear boundaries around technology (i.e. no phones at the dinner table or checking e-mail during family time).

5. Get Enough Sleep –

Do you know how many hours of sleep is optimum for your body? If not, start to tune in to your body and read its signs and signals. Your body is always giving your signs, it is just a matter if you are listening or not.


Over to You…

I hope this article has given you some more insight in to burnout and ways to deal with burnout. If I can help out in any way, please let me know. AlsoiIf you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heartwhy not join our Toolkit?


Reference –

Schaufeli, W., & Enzmann, D. (1998). The Burnout Companion To Study And Practice: A Critical Analysis. Padstow, United Kingdom: TJ International Ltd.  

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