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Help if you are feeling burned out

Help if you are feeling burned out

Feeling burned out is common when the demands of life seem relentless and overwhelming. If you’ve started to feel unable to cope with your obligations, whether related to family, work or even health conditions, you may be experiencing burnout, which is a common but serious mental health issue.

According to the National Library of Medicine, the term burnout was first coined in the 1970s by an American psychologist named Herbert Freudenberger to describe overwhelmed workers in professions such as medicine. But over the years, burnout has been recognized in people of all walks of life, especially those who struggle with work-life balance.

5 Signs of burnout reports that burnout can include emotional, behavioral and physical symptoms. Five common signs of burnout include:

  1. Feeling tired and developing headaches, muscle pain, more frequent illnesses and changes in appetite
  2. Feeling overwhelmed, helpless, trapped and defeated
  3. Developing a cynical and negative outlook on life
  4. Using food, drugs or alcohol to cope with stress
  5. Withdrawing from responsibilities and taking longer to get things done

In addition to those five signs, these other symptoms can help you know if you’re burned out:

  • Being unable to care about the quality of your work or home life
  • Feeling exhausted all the time
  • Feeling like every day is a bad day
  • Feeling like the tasks that fill your day at work or home are overwhelming or dull
  • Not feeling appreciated or like you’re making a difference

How to fix feeling burned out

According to Harvard Business Review, there are three primary causes of job burnout. Even if it isn’t your job causing problems, identifying these causes can help you move forward:

  • Cynicism, which means distancing yourself from your work and obligations
  • Exhaustion, which includes physical, cognitive and emotional fatigue
  • Inefficacy, which means feeling incompetent and like you’re lacking in achievement and productivity

Together, these three causes can be difficult to tackle. However, Harvard Business Review recommends four strategies for recovering from burnout and preventing it from occurring again or in the first place:

  1. Prioritize self-care. Reduce chronic stress as much as possible. This means making sure you get enough sleep at night, eating well, exercising regularly, maintaining social connections with family members and friends, enjoying nature, meditating and journaling.
  2. Reduce exposure to stressors. Set ground rules concerning the things that create the most stress, whether it’s at home or work. Learning when and how to say no can help you feel more in control of your life.
  3. Seek connections. Creating and developing connections with others in your professional and personal life, especially coaches and mentors, can help you focus on what’s important and band together to support each other during tough times.
  4. Shift your perspective. Prioritizing tasks, delegating work and letting go of competitiveness can make many obligations less overwhelming and more manageable.

It’s important to spot the signs of burnout and ask for help. At University Medical Center New Orleans, our Behavioral Health and Psychiatry Care teams can recognize and treat burnout caused by all types of stressors, including job and family. We can also connect you with community resources that can help.