Working to live or living to work? Working is something that we all must do to support ourselves, our families, and our future. Even when we love our job, it can be easy to start feeling and showing burnout.

Burnout is the feeling of being overwhelmed and exhausted emotionally, physically, and mentally due to stress. Even the smallest tasks can make us feel overwhelmed while in this state. This can be especially true when working in the healthcare or helping profession, as we take on the emotion, stress, and the intensity of our patients in order to help lighten their load. This even requires us to care for them when they are not able to care for themselves.

In the meantime, who is taking care of you? Who is taking care of your coworker, your boss, or your friend? As we spend the majority of our lives at work, and while burnout in the workplace is forever possible, it is important for us to be able to recognize when our coworker is beginning to feel burnout, as well as ourselves. The goal is to balance working hard and helping others, while remaining happy, healthy, and fulfilled.

The 5 Stages of Burnout (

  1. The Honeymoon Phase: High job satisfaction, commitment, creativity, and energy.
  2. Onset of Stress: Being aware of some days being more difficult than others.
  3. Chronic Stress: Frequent feelings of being stressed
  4. Burnout: Being overwhelmed and exhausted emotionally, physically, and mentally.
  5. Habitual Burnout: Burnout becoming a regular problem.

How to Spot Burnout in your Coworker (and Yourself):

  1. Moving slowly or looking tired.
  2. Complaining often or negative-descriptor speech.
  3. A once happy personality now unenthused or looking defeated.
  4. Exaggerated negative responses to small inconveniences.
  5. Increased amount of calling-out or feeling ill.
  6. Depression
  7. Quietness or isolation

How to Prevent Burnout:

  1. Early recognition and early intervention.
  2. Taking your allotted breaks.
  3. Self-care activities and things that make you happy (i.e., walks, meditation, healthy foods, exercise, adventures, beach, music, sports, television, etc.).
  4. Talking to a friend or family member for support.
  5. Positive self-talk.

Burnout can lead to the destruction of our mental, emotional, and physical states. When we do not take care of ourselves, the negative effects can trickle down to those around us, including patients. If you recognize that a coworker may be starting to feel burnout, try talking to them about how they are taking care of themselves at home. If you are beginning to feel the tug of burnout, please do not hesitate to ask a friend for help or let your boss know how you are feeling. Together we can strive to support one-another as we continue to give our all to the community!

By: Michele D. Della Costa, MS, RMFTI

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