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5 Signs That You’re Burned Out

Saundra Jain, MA, PsyD, LPC - Blogs
By Saundra Jain, MA, LPC, PsyDPsychotherapistJanuary 16, 2018
From the WebMD Archives

Burnout has become one of the buzzwords for the 21st century. People from all walks of life are talking about burnout and its impact. Those who experience burnout report a loss of enthusiasm, feelings of pessimism, and a low sense of personal accomplishment. These feelings can show up in a work or home environment, or both.

Research tells us that burnout negatively impacts both mental and physical health – and that the problem is widespread. A 2007 study from the American Psychological Association revealed that 75% of Americans suffer from stress-related symptoms, both physical and psychological, in any given month.

Does any of this ring a bell? If you’re concerned that you may be suffering from burnout, here are 5 signs to look for (complete with handy acronym):

  • Pain – Multiple recurring physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, muscle aches
  • Anger – Feeling angry and irritable
  • Indifferent – Loss of motivation, drive, and interest
  • Negative – Feeling pessimistic, cynical
  • Tired – Physical and emotional fatigue

If you’re not sure but concerned, take a moment and, using the PAINT acronym, think about your level of stress at home, work, school, and social settings.

If you believe you are burned out, you may want to seek professional help. See your family healthcare provider or a mental health specialist if any of the PAINT symptoms have been present for more than two weeks and if the symptoms have impaired your ability to function normally. No matter what, you should evaluate your level of self-care: how well are you taking care of yourself and your personal needs? Don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel your self-care routine is lacking. Most of us leave plenty of room for improvement in this department. If you have no idea how to improve your self-care practices, start by focusing on these main areas: exercise, mindfulness, sleep, socialization, and nutrition. Research has shown that healthy habits in these areas can have both physical and mental benefits.

To combat burnout, here are specific practices in each of the 5 key self-care areas:

  • Exercise – at least 30-minutes per day (it’s okay to break it down into smaller blocks of time)
  • Mindfulness – at least 10-minutes per day (consider using an app as there are many available)
  • Sleep – set and abide by a regular bedtime even on the weekends
  • Socialization – connect with family and/or friends daily
  • Nutrition – eliminate processed foods and keep a food diary

Be careful not to pick and choose from this list – do your best to implement all five of these wellness practices to improve your wellness and decrease your level of stress. Keep PAINT in mind when you feel stressed and put your wellness practices into action.

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About the Author
Saundra Jain, MA, LPC, PsyD

Saundra Jain, MA, PsyD, LPC, is a psychotherapist and Adjunct Clinical Affiliate of the School of Nursing at The University of Texas at Austin. She maintains a private practice focused on both wellness and a variety of mental health disorders. She is recognized both nationally and internationally for her work in wellness. Dr. Jain's most recent publication is a workbook entitled WILD 5 Wellness Ancient Practices for Modern Times: A Prescriptive & Proven 90-Day Mental Wellness Program.

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