Burnout Syndrome: 6 Steps to Managing It
December 17, 2015
Healthcare workers find themselves having to be beacons of hope for other people day-after-day, hour-after-hour, and many forget about their own wellness, which can quickly lead to burnout syndrome.
A Gallup Poll shows that more than half of all medical professionals are thriving in 0-to-1 of the 5 elements of wellbeing (Purpose, Social, Financial, Community, Physical).
This means that while they are constantly trying to improve the lives of others, they forget to make their own lives healthy and are costing themselves happiness and prosperity.
Unfortunately this can have real consequences. Burnout doesn’t only have an impact on the physical, emotional, and behavioral aspects of your life – but can also have a productivity effect in your work routine.
This means that there are times when you feel like you’re doing your best, and it doesn’t even come close to how productive you could actually be if you weren’t constantly feeling burned out in your daily routine.
As the healthcare industry continues to innovate its healthcare processes and attempts to find ways to cut costs and improve the level of patient care – employers and healthcare facilities/hospitals are constantly looking at ways to improve employee productivity.
One of the best ways to improve employee productivity is to reduce the amount of burnout that their employees experience.
When employees are feeling burned out in their daily work routine, it can often bleed over into their personal life.
From there, it becomes a recurring cycle where they slowly progress into this cycle that repeats, and ultimately they lose engagement in their work.
And when a healthcare employee is no longer engaged in their work – they can’t provide the most efficient and effective care possible. This ultimately costs the hospital and healthcare facility both time and money, and patient outcomes will ultimately suffer in the long run.
So, if most employees are not engaged, or are actively disengaged, in their jobs, what can we do?
Luckily, there are several things that we as both healthcare employers or healthcare professionals can do to identify, address, and improve upon burnout syndrome we experience in the healthcare industry.
The first thing you can do to ensure that you improve your overall well-being and get over the hump that is burnout, is to understand what the signs are and determine whether or not you might be experiencing burnout syndrome.
Below we have compiled a list of some of the most common burnout syndrome signs, and detail a little bit about each one.
Identifying which you have will also help you understand how you can get over that burnout feeling, and ultimately improve the level of care you provide moving forward.
What is Burnout Syndrome?
According to research, there are newly defined sub-sets of burnout.
Burnout syndrome is caused by detrimental coping strategies that we’ve used to try and overcome our feelings of fatigue, cynicism, and professional inefficacy.
Many healthcare workers get these feelings because they have to hide how they really feel most of the time.
You can’t feel bad when you are trying to take care of a patient that feels bad. Unfortunately, since you are always being the caretaker of others, you rarely get to return the favor to yourself.
Burnout syndrome can simply be stated as the feeling that you are in a state of physical, mental, or emotional exhaustion that ultimately has an effect on the productivity and overall satisfaction you experience when you are at your job.
Another way of understanding what burnout syndrome is, is to understand how it develops over time.
Ultimately, as professionals in the healthcare industry, we all strive to go above and beyond in our efforts to care for those patients who are ill, or not feeling well. And when we put so much effort into ensuring that they feel better – and we can’t take away all of their pain or get them better fast enough, then we ultimately get disappointed and stressed.
Over time those disappointments and stress build up, and we feel like we’re not accomplishing the goals we set out for ourselves.
It is easy to see how those disappointments and stress factors can build up over time and ultimately impact our overall job satisfaction and productivity we experience, because we feel as if our hard work and efforts are in vain.
Typically, burnout syndrome arises from those individuals who are incredibly devoted to their job. Those individuals will do whatever it takes to go above and beyond what is expected of them – without thinking about themselves or their personal well-being.
An easy way to understand how burnout happens is to imagine a car engine. Ultimately, a car engine needs gas to run properly. Over time, you use all of that fuel in your daily routine.
Throughout the course of the day, week, or month – you can only use the gas that is in your fuel tank to get you through each day. Stress occurs when you start running out of gas or energy, and ultimately burnout occurs when you begin to ask your engine to go even further without any gas or energy in the tank.
How can you expect to get from one place to another in your car without any gas? The same thing applies to your overall well-being and body. Ultimately your body is going to start giving you signs that you’re on the verge of feeling burned out – and you should heed those signs and take active steps to prevent the buildup of feeling burned out.
We briefly mentioned how stress can build up over time to you ultimately feeling burned out. Since we mentioned that stress builds up, we have to detail the difference between stress and burnout.
Some individuals will state that you are merely feeling stressed, and that there is no difference between stress and feeling burned out. The problem with that, is that there are several differences between feeling stressed, and feeling burnt out.
In order to understand the differences, we are going to cover the difference between stress and burnout.
What Is The Difference Between Stress and Burnout?
Many individuals will state that they are just feeling stressed, or be told that they are just feeling stress during their normal work routine.
While this is true, that everyone deals with stress in some form or another during their normal work routine, overtime it can compound into a burnout syndrome.
An easy way to understand how stress and burnout are different is to look at some of the most telltale signs of stress are:
• Over-engaged During work
• Your Emotions Are Overactive
• You Have Less Energy
• You Are Feeling More Anxious
• You Have This Feeling That Everything Needs To Be Done Urgently
Those are just a couple of the ways that you might be experiencing stress. In contrast, here are some of the general feelings or ways that you might be experiencing burnout:
• You’re Disengaged During Work and Your Personal Life
• Your Emotions Are Blunted
• You Feel Detached and Depressed
• You Have This Never-Ending Feeling of Hopelessness
• You Have a Loss of Motivation
• You Have a Loss of Hope
• You Feel As If Your Effort Has No Value
• You Can’t Possibly See How You Are Going To Have Any Energy Moving Forward
• Even The Smallest Things Make You Anxious
Ultimately, experiencing stress can come from taking on too much work at any given time. Using our car example earlier, you can only take on so much work at any given time.
When you take on more work than you can handle, you are leaving yourself open to experience stress.
When you leave yourself open to experience stress, and continually feel that stress as it builds up over time as you take on more work, it ultimately leads to feeling burned out.
A good way of understanding how the two are connected is to think of feeling burned out as dealing with excessive stress.
Typically, we all can tell when we’re beginning to feel stressed in a situation, or work – but feeling burned out can sneak up on us.
Feeling burned out can ultimately happen over time when we don’t realize it because we get so accustomed to the stress we experience, that it becomes normal and we don’t realize that we’ve transitioned into a never-ending feeling of stress.
When stress becomes the normal routine for you – that’s when you know you need to take proactive steps to ensure that you reduce the stress and feelings of burnout immediately.
The good news is that you can activity identify the symptoms that ultimately lead to stress, and then transition into burnout – and you can actively prevent them with some of the simple steps we’ve included in this article.
Now that you know what the difference is between stress and feeling burned out, first you have to identify what type of burnout you have.
When you identify what type of burnout you have, you can understand where some of the problem areas might be in your professional and personal life.
When you can identify where some of the problem areas might be in your personal and professional life – you can then eliminate those problems systematically.
What Type Of Burnout Do You Have?
There are a few different types of burnout that you might have. As we covered earlier, there are three ways in which burnout can affect your professional and personal life: physical, emotional, and behavioral.
Some of these will be isolated to just one potential aspect of your life, or they can bleed into several of the areas at once.
Which do you have:
Overload– This type of burnout syndrome comes when you work toward success until exhaustion, or you just work until exhaustion, whether you are striving for success or not.
This is most closely related to emotional venting; you try to cope with your stress by complaining about the hierarchy at work and feel that it imposes limits on you and your ambitions – you never talk about your frustrations head-on.
Another way you might be experiencing this kind of burnout is the way in which your job, co-workers, or boss are hindering you from accomplishing your goals and ambitions.
Thinking that others are limiting you or are gunning for you is a sure way to build animosity among you, your co-workers, and your bosses and lead you to quitting – or getting fired.
You might be experiencing overload from the amount of work you’ve taken on, or the feeling that you are taking on more work than some of your co-workers or employers.
Lack of Development– If you find yourself trying to avoid work or distancing yourself from work (avoidance mechanism), then you probably have the burnout that stems from boredom and lack of personal development.
When you distance yourself from your co-workers and your work, you start to feel depersonalized and cynical.
This is because you are out of the loop and you don’t feel valued anymore. What you don’t realize is, it’s through your own doing, not your co-workers or bosses.
Almost every single professional wants to feel as if they are growing and developing over time. This is a normal sensation, and often times development is critical to enjoying your job.
There are some individuals who don’t mind that their daily routine is the same thing over and over again – due to the fact that are constantly developing and growing as both an individual and a professional employee.
However, when it feels like we are doing the same thing over and over again, and nothing new is occurring in both our professional and personal lives in terms of growth and development – it can wear on us.
The lack of development burnout feeling can even creep in when we are developing – just not at the pace we’d like the development to occur.
We might have our own opinions or beliefs as to how fast we should be growing, developing, learning new skills, or becoming more well-rounded. When we fail to meet those rates at which we feel we should be developing, we can begin to feel burned out over time.
You can rest assured knowing that feeling burned out through the lack of development is a normal feeling – and something that can easily be remedied.
Exhaustion– You can’t go on. You run from your problems when they get heavy and you feel burdened.
It’s a coping strategy loosely based on our Fight or Flight mechanisms; except, instead of fleeing from perceived danger, we flee from perceived discomfort, stress, or unhappiness.
Even though you want to achieve something great, the fear and lack of motivation you have, drives you to give up instead.
Feeling exhausted can build up over time and ultimately compound the amount of stress that you experience over time. And as we mentioned earlier, the buildup of stress ultimately leads to you feeling burned out over time.
Neglect– This is a feeling that you are getting neglected during your job. You feel as if everyone is ignoring you, or you aren’t being rewarded for the amount of effort that you put into your job.
While you might not be truly experiencing neglect, when we ultimately feel the stress start to build up – we can tend to overreact in certain situations.
That neglect feeling from one scenario might compound into over-analyzing some of the other scenarios that might occur and we begin to feel that we are being neglected.
What Scenarios Causes Job Burnout
We’ve covered briefly how stress can ultimately buildup over time to cause burnout, and there are some scenarios that you can find yourself in that will ultimately lead you to feeling burned out.
We are going to cover some of those scenarios, so you can determine whether or not you are in a scenario that might make you feel burned out in the long run.
Dysfunctional Workplace — There are some scenarios that you might find yourself in when you are at your place of work, and one of those scenarios might include a dysfunctional work environment.
For instance, you might find that you work with co-workers who can’t seem to get the basic tasks completed, and their burden falls to you. This means that you are being asked to cover their workload, and then ultimately get stressed out when they ask you to help out in the future as well.
Dysfunctional Workplace Relationships — Another thing that might ultimately cause you to feel burned out during your job is any dysfunctional relationship in your workplace.
For instance, you might have a tense relationship with one of your co-workers or boss. Ultimately those relationships will cause stress on you and the professional atmosphere you work in.
Any dysfunctional workplace relationship that you are surrounded with can potentially have a large impact on you and the amount of stress that ultimately builds up within you.
The more those dysfunctional relationships wear on you, the more you work towards feeling burned out in your daily routine.
Some examples of dysfunctional workplace relationships include: being bullied by co-workers or your boss, feeling undermined by colleagues for the work you do, and being micro-managed by your boss for tasks you were told that you were in charge of.
If you happen to check any of these boxes, then you might be experiencing some dysfunctional workplace relationships. Each of these can wear you down over time, and lead you to feeling burned out quickly.
Unclear Job Expectations — Another scenario that can ultimately lead to you feeling burned out as a healthcare professional is unclear job expectations.
Unclear job expectations arise when you aren’t sure of the full scope of your responsibilities. This means that you aren’t sure whether or not something is under your control, what your role is exactly, and whether or not you should step in and assist or let someone else handle it.
When there is so much ambiguity in what your role is, and what is expected of you — you can get stressed out easily.
In addition, you might not be certain what level of authority you have to make decisions, amongst your peers, or potentially fulfill some of the roles that are assigned to you in your job role.
If you’re uncomfortable or unclear on what some of your job expectations are, then it is incredibly difficult to feel comfortable when you are working.
The key thing to take away is that if you don’t feel comfortable as a healthcare professional or hospital professional – it’s almost impossible to make your patients feel comfortable while they are receiving care.
Mismatched Values — One scenario that might arise from healthcare and hospital professionals is mismatched values compared to their employer, boss, or organization that they work for.
For instance, you might have defining values about how you grow and develop as a healthcare professional. You might feel very strongly that your healthcare employer or hospital employer should help finance some of the continuing education or skill development courses you take while employed.
If they don’t pay for those courses or classes, and make you pay for them – there might be some significant tension that could arise because your values and the organization’s values don’t align.
Or perhaps you have different opinions than your employer on how internal conflicts should be handled.
For example, you get into an argument with one of your co-workers. You have a strong belief in sitting down with your co-worker, and working out the differences between you two.
Whereas your employer believes the two of you should be separated, and a report filed.
Any values that you feel strongly about, could potentially clash with those values that your co-workers or employers have opposing values to – tension will build up over time.
Lack of Control — If you’ve ever been told that you are responsible for certain tasks within your job, and then ultimately been undermined – then you might be dealing with a lack of control.
Lack of control is one scenario where you might be feel like you don’t have enough control to do your job. In contrast, a lack of control might also be the feeling that you can’t control anything that is under your control at any given point.
Even though you have demonstrated an ability to manage things at certain times, it might feel as if the tasks are spiraling out of your control and you can’t do anything to put it all back together in an orderly fashion.
A lack of control might even be the feeling that you aren’t able to influence decisions that could potentially affect you, your job, your peers, or your employer.
Some of those things that you hope to have an influence on might include your workload, assignments, schedule, or place of employment.
When you feel like you can’t influence the outcome of those decisions, it can get overwhelming and ultimately lead to you feeling burned out from all the stress that arises from those situations.
Lack of Resources — Another scenario that could potentially impact the amount of stress you experience or are under could revolve around the feeling that you don’t have enough resources to do your job.
For instance, you might feel that you need extra equipment or new equipment to provide the most efficient and effective care. And your employers, bosses, or managers are leaning on you to provide better care to increase patient retention in the future.
It could be disheartening to feel as if you can’t do your best job when you don’t have the best equipment, and feel no support from the upper-management when they aren’t providing you with the resources you need to be efficient and effective.
Plenty of other individuals struggle with the belief that they don’t have enough adequate resources to do their job to the fullest. Therefore, you can rest assured knowing that you’re not the only one who is currently experiencing stress from that mindset.
Poor Job Fit — Another thing that can ultimately lead to you feeling stressed and then build up to feeling burned out is having a poor job fit.
Whether it’s because you took a job that you needed to and didn’t have many offers, or the job didn’t turn out quite the way you originally envisioned, we’ve all been in a scenario where you realize it’s just not a good job fit.
Perhaps the job expectations weren’t as clear as we mentioned above, your role has changed over time with the organization, or you aren’t satisfied with the direction the employer is heading in.
All of these things can eventually lead to you feeling as if you don’t have a solid job fit, and lead to you feeling stressed about your future with that organization.
Work-Life Imbalance — Another scenario that is becoming increasingly common for healthcare and hospital professionals who are holding hospital jobs is to manage the work-life imbalance.
Increasingly, hospitals and healthcare facilities are asking their employees working hospital jobs or in the healthcare industry to go above and beyond what is expected of them to improve patient outcomes.
One of those above and beyond expectations might be to spend more time in the hospital or healthcare facility.
This can eventually lead to you feeling like there is no separation between your personal life and your professional life. That can be a deep-rooted problem, as the more your personal life disappears and it all becomes your professional life – you can become overwhelmed quickly.
You’re not the only one if you absolutely love your job, and don’t mind your work bleeding over into your personal life a little bit. But the key thing to remember is that your personal life is important to keep your batteries charged.
If your work begins to take away from your personal time that you might want to spend with friends and family, then it will most definitely impact your productivity and professional relationships.
Lack of Social Support Network — One scenario that can most definitely lead to the buildup of feeling burned out is the feeling that you don’t have anybody in your social circles who will back you up.
This could be in both your personal or your professional life. You might feel as if you are going through all of these stressors or work troubles on your own.
The good news is that you’re not alone, and all it takes is to reach out to those closest to you and ask them to hear what you’re going through. They can always provide you with some support and recommend things you should consider.
Extreme Activity Levels — The last scenario that we will cover which could potentially lead you to feel burned out is extreme activity levels.
For instance, we’ve all been in a scenario where we feel as if we are being overworked and we don’t know how much more we have in the gas tank.
Feelings of being overworked can certainly lead to you feeling stressed all of the time. And as your productivity levels begin to suffer because you have been going full speed for so long, then you begin to get stressed about not being able to work even harder because you are so tired.
As one can see, it’s a recurring cycle that can be difficult to get out of – and will ultimately lead to you feeling like you are getting burned out at your job.
Now that we’ve covered some scenarios where you might be exposed to situations that ultimately lead to a quick buildup of stress that leads to feeling burned out – you’ll know that you should avoid those scenarios or actively work towards avoiding those scenarios before you get placed in them.
Now that we showcased experiences and scenarios that you might be in which can build to potential burnout feelings, we have to identify some of the symptoms or signs that indicate you are currently going through the burnout syndrome.
Understanding what some of the signs or symptoms of burnout are will help you understand whether or not you need to take a step back and re-evaluate how you move forward to ensure that you continue to work hard without getting tired of your job or place of employment.
Signs You Might Might Be Experiencing Burnout Syndrome
There are several signs that you might be showcasing which are related to burnout syndrome. It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t feel upset or down about experiencing one or a few of these symptoms.
Every single working professional goes through various stages of feeling burned out during their job and ultimately throughout their career.
This means you should rest assured knowing that you’re not the only one who will go through the stress of feeling burned out – and ultimately there are steps you can take to reduce the overall feeling of being burned out and improve the satisfaction you experience during your job with ease.
Below are some of the signs that you might be experiencing if you are currently going through burnout syndrome:
1.) High Levels of Stress — The first sign or symptom that can arise from feeling burned out is the sensation that you’re dealing with a ton of stress at any given point.
It can feel like no matter what you do, things are just compounding on your plate of things you need to do each day.
2.) Lack of Engagement — another symptom that you are going through feeling burned out is that you no longer feel engaged at work.
You come into work each day and you don’t care whether or not something happens, or if you put in maximum effort. Essentially, you lose the ability to care as you come into work each day.
As one can imagine, health care professionals should never feel this way – otherwise the level of care they provide will drastically change.
Another way in which a lack of engagement feeling might arise could come from feeling burned out is the feeling that you no longer feel engaged with the hospital or healthcare facility who is employing you.
In other words, you might really enjoy your job and put your best foot forward, but you no longer feel engaged with your co-workers, managers, or employer.
3.) Increased Cynicism — Another sign of feeling burned out is that you have increased cynicism. This is another way of saying that you find things to complain about or be upset with your normal routine.
Maybe one of the processes that you have repeatedly used throughout your career as a healthcare professional has recently started to get on your nerves – and nothing about that routine changed.
Or perhaps you start getting upset about something that you have no control over, and it didn’t bother you in the past.
4.) Distracted Eating — Another symptom of burnout syndrome is that you are constantly eating, or that you are eating to distract you from your professional woes.
For instance, you might find yourself snacking throughout the day because of the stress that you are experiencing throughout the day. Another thing that you might find yourself doing is eating to avoid responsibilities.
For instance, you might be asked to go check on a patient – but tell your co-workers that you can’t at the moment cause you are eating a snack on a break.
If you find yourself eating more to distract you from your work, that is a telltale sign that you are attempting to avoid your responsibilities due to feeling burned out.
5.) Not Getting Enough Sleep — We’ve all had sleepless nights where we were worried about something that happened during the work day, and how it might affect us moving forward.
Or perhaps you have an upcoming presentation and are worried about how your co-workers and employer will react and you can’t sleep.
While those scenarios are natural from time to time, if you find yourself unable to sleep for long periods of time, or constantly wake up during the middle of the night because you are stressed about your job – then you are experiencing high levels of stress and need to course-correct immediately as a lack of sleep will only compound the problem.
6.) Low Energy and Exhaustion — Low energy and exhaustion is a common telltale sign that you are experiencing burnout during your job.
We placed this below not getting enough sleep because often times it is a direct result of that. If you find that you’re not sleeping enough anymore, then it’s nearly guaranteed that you are going to have low energy and feel exhausted during your normal routine.
7.) Never Enough Time — Another feeling that might arise when you are burned out is that there is never enough time.
Maybe it’s the sensation that there is never enough time to accomplish all the things that you have planned for the rest of the day because your work balance is bleeding into your personal life.
Or perhaps it feels as if there is never enough time to complete all the tasks you’re responsible for in your job due to the fact that your employer has put more on your plate because they didn’t fully understand the amount of effort or time required to complete those tasks.
As a healthcare professional, the feeling that you don’t have enough time is common – as there are so many complex tasks involved in treating patients at any given time.
8.) Excessive Worrying Or High Levels of Self-Criticism — Another symptom or sign of feeling burned out is that you are dealing with bouts of excessive worrying or are constantly criticizing yourself for things you can’t control.
If you find that you are criticizing yourself more and more for tasks that aren’t completely in your control, or are excessively worrying about how your performance will be viewed by others – then you’re experiencing burnout.
9.) Physical Illness — Another symptom of feeling burned out is that your body gets sick.
Perhaps it might be a common cold, but it’s enough for you to take the hint that your body is giving you. Typically everyone is more apt to get a common cold or the flu when winter rolls around and sick activity rises.
But if you get a common cold in the middle of the summer when the sickness season should be well past – then you should realize that your body is attempting to give you a sign that you need to slow down and recharge your batteries.
We will be covering some of the other physical signs or symptoms that your body might indicate a little later on, in regards to the physical effects burnout might have on you.
10.) Numb Feelings — The sensation of feeling numb is common to those individuals who are currently feeling burned out.
Feeling numb is very similar to feeling disengaged as we mentioned earlier. You lose your ability to care, and ultimately you feel emotionally cold no matter the situation.
11.) Inefficacy — Inefficacy is when you feel like you don’t have the ability or the power to create an outcome that you’d like.
For instance, one of your patients is currently going through a difficult scenario – and you feel powerless in your efforts to help them get healthy again and over their illness/sickness.
12.) No Breaks — Another sign or symptom that can arise when you are feeling burned out is that you realize you aren’t taking any breaks.
In the chaotic and hectic environment that a hospital or healthcare facility can be, it’s easy to let those important breaks slip on by without us realizing it. The problem is when those lapses used to occur every now and then, and then eventually transition into occuring every single day.
This means that it has become customary for you to believe that you shouldn’t take a break because you are so busy.
If you find that you are no longer taking breaks – then you need to start taking those breaks, as they are important in reducing the chances that you lead to feeling burned out.
13.) Not Enough Exercise — Another sign of feeling burned out at work is that you no longer want to do anything once you get out of the hospital or healthcare facility.
Even the thought of potentially going out and doing something on your own time can wear you out before you even undertake the task.
One such example might be whether or not you are getting enough exercise. Exercise is a vital part to maintaining a healthy body, and keeping your energy levels up.
If you find that you aren’t making an effort to commit to a workout frequently, then your energy levels and health will ultimately suffer – and your sensation of feeling burned out will rise.
14.) Critical Attitude At Work — A critical attitude might arise between you and your co-workers or employers when you are feeling burned out.
You might become increasingly annoyed with some of the actions or decisions that your co-workers, peers, or managers are making when they are on the job.
While you might not truly be upset or critical of some of the actions or decisions they’ve made – it might seem like that because you are irritable when you are burned out. To avoid feeling critical at work, you need to reduce the amount of irritations that can arise from feeling burned out.
And to reduce those irritations, you need to ensure that you’re no longer burned out during work.
15.) Being Absent From Work A Lot — Another sign that you are experiencing burnout is that you are constantly finding ways to take time off work.
It could even be the slightest thing that day, which upsets you and the little voice in the back of your head is telling you to take time off work.
It could be the fact that you are no longer getting enough sleep, or that you find that you are using the smallest inconvenience to use as an excuse to take time off work.
For instance, you could be driving into work and you accidentally spill coffee over your scrubs, or traffic is unusually congested. You might call into work and say that you just can’t make it into work today.
If you find that you are coming up with excuses to skip work or take time off, then you are experiencing burnout because you no longer feel passionate about going into work each day.
16.) Feelings of Emptiness — Feelings of emptiness are very similar to feeling numb. If you’re feeling burned out, you can get the sensation that you’re alone in your care efforts.
Sometimes it might feel as if you’re the only one doing any work, or that you’re the only one who is committed.
It can also feel as if your social support networks are no longer supporting you either – and that you’re alone in your social circles.
Feeling this way is certainly tough, but you should rest assured knowing that you’re not alone – and there are corrective measures you can take to get over the feeling of emptiness.
17.) Physical Pains — As we mentioned above, we will also talk about some of the other physical ways that feeling burned out can affect you, and one way is feeling sensations of pain like a headache or a backache.
When you are feeling burned out, you might get sick as we mentioned above, or you might get a backache from all of the sleep you’re losing due to the stress you’re experiencing.
It’s important that you listen to your body, and if you are feeling sensations of pain when you’re not over-exerting yourself through exercise or physical effort – then your body is attempting to give you a sign that you’re burning yourself out.
18.) Feeling Like Your Work Goes Unnoticed — Another symptom that might arise from feeling burned out is that you feel like your work is going unnoticed.
Perhaps you used to get compliments all the time, or your boss would compliment your work ethic. But now that your responsibilities have risen, or your work ethic has risen – you aren’t getting those compliments as frequently.
This can feel overwhelming and tiresome as it can be easy to feel like you’re not getting appreciated for the work you’re putting in.
19.) Blaming Others For Your Mistakes — One sign that you might be experiencing potential burnout is the fact that you are constantly blaming others for your mistakes.
Maybe you accidentally messed up in one of your clinical rotations due to the exhaustion that you are currently dealing with.
When you’re exhausted, it’s easy to make mistakes. The problem rises when you start blaming others for some of the mistakes that you are making because you are overworked and the stress you are dealing with is building up.
If you find that you are blaming others for your mistakes, then you are most likely definitely suffering from being burned out.
20.) Thinking of Quitting Work or Changing Your Role — If you feel like you can’t do your job anymore and be satisfied, or that you need to change it up with a new role, then you are definitely experiencing burnout.
When your job feels like it’s such a burden to you that you can no longer continue to work in that role or work in the facility/hospital – then you should take a step back and realize those feelings are probably from all the stress you’re under.
Now that we’ve covered some of the emotional and mental signs and symptoms that might arise from feeling burned out, we’re going to specifically cover some of the physical symptoms that can arise from feeling burned out.
Physical Signs Or Symptoms of Burnout Syndrome
Feeling burned out doesn’t just have mental or behavioral effects – it also has physical signs and symptoms. It can also have drastic physical effects on your overall well-being and health if you don’t pay attention to some of the things that are building up to your burnout.
Below we will cover some of the things that could potentially happen due to all the stress that is affecting you if you leave them unattended.
1.) Fatigue — As we briefly covered earlier, one of the burnout symptoms you might experience could be fatigue.
If you’re getting overworked in your job, or find that you are losing the energy to work day in and day out, then it could be a culmination of all the stress that is building up over time.
2.) Insomnia — One of the worst things that can happen to healthcare professionals who are dealing with stress is that they begin to deal with bouts of insomnia.
When you go lengthy periods of time without sleeping, or find that you’re having significant trouble falling asleep each night – then you are dealing with bouts of insomnia. Insomnia essentially means that you find it difficult to sleep at night.
When you’re not getting adequate rest, your energy levels are going to be much lower, the body won’t be able to fight off common illnesses or infections, and you will be more prone to making mistakes.
3.) Depression — Another problem that might arise when you are feeling burned out is that you could potentially suffer from bouts of depression.
As we stated above, when you are beginning to feel burned out – you can feel as if your efforts are in vain. That nothing you do will help improve your situation or improve the well-being of some of your patients.
When you’re feeling burned out, it can be even harder to maintain a positive attitude during your job, and you can let depression seep in.
4.) Anxiety — Anxiety is when you feel like you are nervous or apprehensive for no reason.
An increased level of anxiety can arise when you are feeling burned out because even the smallest things can trigger your nerves.
5.) Alcohol Abuse — One thing that individuals do to cope with their woes of their job or the burnout sensation they are feeling in their job is to start using alcohol.
Whether it’s the idea that you can take a glass of beer or wine a night to help you fall asleep a little bit easier, or drink to get over some of the things that are bothering you with work – it can seem like an easy escape.
Even though it might seem like an easy escape, going to alcohol or other substances as we are about to talk about below will have drastic effects on you and your lifestyle.
6.) Substance Abuse — Similar to alcohol abuse, it can seem like a good idea to take several different substances to improve your outlook on your job or potentially increase your productivity.
Even though it may seem like that is a good idea, engaging in substance abuse will only have negative effects on your overall well-being.
8.) Heart Disease — Another symptom of burnout affecting your body is that you begin to develop heart disease.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, your body will begin to undergo changes as a result of the increased stress that you are placing your body through – and one result of that is an increased risk in getting heart disease.
9.) High Cholesterol — Another symptom that you can get from dealing with the mounting stress is high cholesterol.
10.) Stroke — One potential problem you are leaving yourself open to with the mounting stress is experiencing a stroke.
11.) Diabetes — Another thing that could become a complication as a result of the burnout that you’re going through is contracting diabetes due to some of the unhealthy choices you make and the way your body reacts.
12.) Obesity — Above we briefly mentioned how you could potentially find yourself over-eating or taking multiple snack breaks to avoid working.
If you find yourself doing this, then you are potentially increasing your chances of getting obesity in the long run. Compound that with a limited exercise routine, and lack of sleep – and your body will begin to pack on the pounds with ease.
If you’re looking to keep a healthy body, then the last thing you want to do is leave yourself open to the potential risks associated with obesity from the mounting stress.
13.) Vulnerability To Illness — As we mentioned above, when your body is running on fumes and you’re not getting enough sleep – then you are potentially leaving yourself open to common illnesses or sickness that you would never fall prey to.
Unfortunately, burnout syndrome is a complex monster with many heads.
If you are burnt-out, it doesn’t only mean you are too stressed or work too many hours; you could have a relatively good schedule and light workload and still find yourself depressed or in need of change.
Because burnout is a Hydra, there is no cure-all for it. In the following, I will show you a list of tips we have compiled to help you avoid burnout:
6 Steps to Managing Burnout Syndrome:
1. Eliminate The Problems
One way that you can manage burnout syndrome is to eliminate some of the problems that could lead to you building up stress, or ultimately feeling burned out.
If you recognize that you are experiencing some of the symptoms or signs of stress buildup that will eventually turn to burnout, then you need to take corrective measures to eliminate those problems.
If you notice that you are working in an environment that has poor team dynamics, and are feeling stressed when you come home – then you need to be introspective and figure out how you can fix those poor team dynamics, or consider whether or not it is time to move on.
2. Saying No
Quit taking on tasks you don’t want to. This means that you need to start saying no in both your work life and your home life.
Earlier we mentioned how you need to maintain the work/life balance – as it is critically important to ensuring that you don’t get burned out during your job.
If you continuously take on more than you can handle or more than you want to do, you will get burned out with everything.
Spreading yourself too thin drains your creative juices and takes away from necessary tasks you must do in order to meet the standard of living you created.
Saying yes, instead of no, leads to you wanting to stay in bed all day and do nothing — mostly because you face a daunting task-list as soon as you get out from underneath the sheets.
The best thing you can do is politely tell people no.
If your boss is inflexible with your wishes, sit down with them and explain your circumstances (without emotion) and come to some resolution.
Most of the time, your employer or manager won’t understand why you aren’t willing to comply, but if you explain your reasoning to them they will most likely be very receptive to your wishes.
Don’t want to go to your significant other’s Christmas party? Don’t. If they truly love you, they will understand.
If you are to a point in your life where you need to reel back into yourself and get some stability, try being a no-man instead of a yes-man.
It’s always important to remember that you need to put your own health and your own well-being first, and let the rest fall by the wayside.
3. Taking Real Breaks
Turn off your phone, shut your laptop, throw your remote through your TV — not really, but turn it off, too — and release your mind.
Most times when we are taking a break, we aren’t really taking a break. We are so engrossed in what’s going on around the world and in other people’s lives that we never sit back and have quiet time.
It seems as soon as we have a moment to ourselves, we bury our faces in our phone and look at status updates of people we don’t even care about. Then once we review those status updates, we begin to compare ourselves to them and get depressed. You need to stop.
There is so much stress related to the healthcare profession that you don’t need to add to it with more bad news about what’s going on around you.
You can go on a low-information diet, so that you can focus back in on what matters to you and keep yourself from getting burnt out with all the junk we face in our lives.
Get up and go walk, run, or do something really crazy like use some of your time off and take a vacation.
It’s crazy, but Americans don’t use their vacation days or they work when they are on vacation.
If you never step away and truly give yourself time off, you will burnout entirely and need a vacation from your vacations. End the cycle, take real breaks and make them count.
Write down every hate-filled thought, dream, fear, and desire to see what you really want and what makes you happy.
We all have a little voice inside of us that we neglect, but that voice will steer us in the right path if we let it. A good way to get started is to write everything down and look for clues to when you started feeling burnt out or unhappy.
Determine what caused it and take actions to improve or change your situations.
You need to cure the disease, not it’s symptoms. If you can start defining what’s at the root of your burnout syndrome and what would make you happy, you can start implementing an improvement plan.
The best way to solve our problems is to listen what we are trying to say to ourselves. You need to decide if it’s really the job that is burning you out, or if it’s other factors that lead to you hating what you do.
It’s not an easy thing to do, especially in the medical field, since you have to constantly help people and you feel some type of moral obligation to be what others need you to be.
But if you are going crazy or are burnt out, you have to cure your ailments before you can help others fix theirs.
5. Realize You’re Not Perfect
Stop trying to be. It is the fight for perfection that keeps us unhappy and fried. Nothing in this world is perfect, including you, so reaching perfection is never going to happen.
The sooner you understand this, the sooner you can start to heal your burnout and get back to enjoying life.
As healthcare professionals, you want to be perfect, you feel you must be perfect; you have lots of people depending on you and, sometimes, your mistakes can cost lives or leave people worse off than before. It’s terrible when bad things happen, but they always will.
If you blame yourself for everything wrong that happens and forget when things go right, you will suffer.
Remember to do your best and let everything else go. You can only do what you can do.
6. One Bite at a Time
QUESTION: How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time. Break your tasks down into manageable pieces so big tasks don’t seem so daunting.
It’s better to not look at the full picture sometimes, as it can be discouraging. Define the things you need to get done in a day (a manageable list) and do those things. Once you have completed them, move on and live your life; don’t take on more patients, don’t go check on more people — because you probably won’t give them the attention they need anyway.
Ask for help when you need it and don’t be afraid to leave things you can’t do for someone else; just talk to them about it, so you’re not throwing something on their lap they can’t handle either.
Now that we have covered some of the important things you need to know with burnout syndrome – you can address them in your personal and professional life.
Understanding what some of the symptoms and signs are will help you determine whether or not you are experiencing them.
Understanding what some of the most common scenarios for the buildup of stress and burnout will help you to ensure that you aren’t in a situation that could potentially be bad down the road.
Using our steps to manage burnout and stress buildup over time will ensure that you maintain a positive attitude when you are working, and enjoy your job.