Burnout and How to Deal With it

Author: Dr. Julie. Sorenson, DMFT, MA, LPC

What is Burnout?

Burnout can happen to anyone, no matter your socioeconomic situation. It doesn’t discriminate. It is an emotional, mental, and physical state causing exhaustion, which stems from prolonged or repeated stress. Many often think burnout stems from work, but other factors lead to burnout as well, such as: 

  • Parenting 
  • Caretaking 
  • Romantic relationships
  • Juggling to many tasks
  • Long work hours
  • Lack of support 
  • Health problems
  • Financial Issues

A mountain of stress can lead to stress-causing somatic symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Stomachaches
  • Increased drinking
  • Overeating or undereating 
  • Insomnia
  • Weakness 
  • Aches/pains 
  • Shortness of breath

How to know if you are experiencing burnout?

You may be mentally or physically exhausted. It may take time to pay attention. Sometimes, you may notice you are feeling irritable or have less compassion. Getting out of bed to leave for work or do things you enjoy doing may become difficult if you feel burnout. You may be depressed, and notice anxiety related to whatever is causing you burnout. Burnout occurs for an extended time, whereas stress is short-term or tied to a goal. It could be related to burnout if you are experiencing stress but are feeling empty or hopeless.


Some roles have people experience higher levels of burnout, such as, but not limited to:

  • Medical Professionals
  • Law Enforcement
  • Priests, Pastors, etc..
  • Attorneys
  • Automotive Industry
  • Teachers

How to Decrease Burnout

When you are experiencing signs of burnout, it is crucial to take care of yourself. Look at the things in your life that bring you joy and spend more time doing that. Ensuring that you have a purpose, a purpose, doesn’t need to be a grandiose goal, but small things within your day can create meaning. Maybe you are experiencing burnout because you are not challenged, or you don’t feel appreciated. Draw boundaries, look for ways to say no, or ask for help. Take breaks within your schedule, have start and stop times, minimize multi-tasking, reduce your workload, and prioritize levels of importance’s.


Burnout can lead to broken down relationships, loss of job, and feeling like a lousy parent, friend, or child. If someone feels burnout, they may keep this feeling to themselves; talking about how you think is essential. If you don’t feel you can trust anyone to discuss your feelings of burnout, reach out to a therapist who can provide you with strategies to decrease your feelings of burnout. Don’t ignore signs of burnout. They can have detrimental consequences, and remember, it is vital to take care of yourself. Your phone battery won’t work if you don’t charge it. The same goes for you; if you don’t care for yourself, you have less energy to give to work, family, friends, and most of all yourself.

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