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  • Writer's picturejennifersprague8

Are You Burning Out?

What is burnout?

Burnout is prolonged stress or a form of mental distress that can be accompanied by physical health issues. It can happen from feeling ineffective or a lack of accomplishment in different areas of your life, an incapacity to continue meeting demands and not engaging in enough self care practices.

General signs of Prolonged Stress

Cognitive Symptoms

  • Difficulties concentrating and thinking clearly

  • Indecisiveness

  • Poor judgment

  • Memory issues

  • Anxious/racing thoughts

  • Loss of objectivity

  • Fearful anticipation

Emotional Symptoms

  • Moodiness and agitation

  • Feeling overwhelmed

  • Irritability, impatience

  • Detachment, feeling isolated

  • Decreasing motivation

  • Inability to relax

  • Feeling helpless, defeated

  • Increasing negative outlook

Physical Symptoms

  • Headaches

  • Muscle tension/stiffness

  • Nausea, dizziness

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Weight gain or loss

  • Lowered immunity (i.e. getting sick more frequently)

  • Feeling tired or drained

  • Skin breakouts

Behavioural Symptoms

  • Withdrawing from responsibilities

  • Isolating yourself from others

  • Sleeping and/or eating too much or too little

  • Using substances to cope

  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting)

  • Teeth grinding, jaw clenching

  • Picking fights with others

  • Overreacting to unexpected issues

  • Skipping work, going in late

4 Stages of Burnout

1. Physical, Mental, Emotional Exhaustion

  • Doing more with less – energy shortage

  • Juggling an unmanageable schedule

  • Cutting more corners - can lead to a lowered self esteem

2. Shame and Doubt

  • Losing confidence, may begin discounting past accomplishments

  • May wonder if people are noticing something is wrong

  • May begin to feel a strong sense of vulnerability and uncertainty

3. Cynicism and Callousness

  • Vulnerability and uncertainty = putting on a heavy suit of armour

  • May develop an attitude, become more abrasive

  • “No one is getting me”

4. Failure, Helplessness and Crisis

  • Coping strategies seem ineffective

  • May feel quite disoriented as psychological defenses have worn down

  • Painful memories may resurface

  • Overly sensitive personal reactions

If you can relate to the above signs and symptoms, you may want to begin exploring ways to recover from the burnout your may be experiencing or prevent it from further development.

But, where to start? SELF CARE!

Some Self Care Suggestions


Seek counselling support · Neurofeedback · Journal · Art · Garden · Relax outside · Read a book · Focus on your positive qualities · Practice asking for and receiving help


Regular health care · Eat well · Massages · Take vacations or time off · Go for a walk · Turn off your cell phone · Ask for nurture · Bubblebaths


Affirmations · Cry · Laugh · Watch a funny movie · Pick up a new hobby · Cuddle with your pet · Buy yourself a present · Tell yourself “You are awesome!”


Spend time in nature · Meditate · Sing · Foster self-forgiveness · Play · Yoga · Watch sunrises and sunsets · Volunteer for a cause · Dance · Play with children · Find a spiritual mentor


Foster new friendships · Make short and long term goals · Create a vision board · Spend time with family/friends · Write a poem or a story · Cook · Learn to play an instrument


Take time for lunch · Set boundaries · Leave work at work · Do not work during your time off · Learn to say NO · Ask for regular supervision · Take a class


Gorkin, M. (n.d.). The four stages of burnout. Retrieved from

Saakvitne, Pearlman & Norton (1996). Transforming pain: A workbook on vicarious traumatization

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