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Signs you may be experiencing burnout

Do you feel tired, uninspired, unmotivated and like you just don’t care? Do you find yourself withdrawing from loved ones or not making progress on once-important goals? After more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic and all the related social, financial, work, caregiving and health stressors, you may wonder if you’re experiencing burnout.

“Burnout is a depletion of multiple facets of your life,” says Lauren Liverman, LCSW, a Piedmont oncology social worker. “You may feel physically, emotionally or spiritually depleted.”

Burnout, she says, is the opposite of vitality. It’s based on a cumulative experience of stressors, not short-term events.

“When you get to burnout, there were probably warning signs weeks or months prior that weren’t addressed,” Liverman says. “With our physical health, we can develop overuse injuries like carpal tunnel. Burnout is like that, but on a more spiritual, mental and emotional level.”

Signs of burnout

Many people with burnout develop apathy, whether that’s related to their work, family, friends, health, hobbies or self-care.

“Burnout is something we saw so much with health care workers during the pandemic,” Liverman says. “Many people in the medical field sought that type of work because they have a sincere desire to help people. But if they’re experiencing burnout, they may feel disconnected from their initial desires and drive.”

In addition to apathy and feeling disconnected from your purpose or relationships, other signs of burnout include:

  • Lack of joy from activities you previously enjoyed.

  • Making frequent mistakes at home or at work.

  • Withdrawing from family or friends because you don’t have the capacity to engage in a meaningful way.

  • Going through the motions without really listening or paying attention.

  • Irritability.

  • Sleep changes.

  • Appetite changes.

  • Lack of self-care.

What causes burnout?

In professional and caregiving settings, the intensity of work can lead to burnout. Dealing with traumatic events, working too much, not taking breaks or vacations, not taking time for yourself, or working in unhealthy environments (such as with an unsupportive boss or competitive colleagues) can all lead to burnout.

In relationships, feeling like you have the same conflicts without resolution can also lead to burnout.

What to do if you experience burnout

If you suspect you are experiencing burnout, Liverman encourages you to talk to your health care provider. It’s also helpful to tell a trusted friend, family member or colleague.

“It’s important to address burnout because there’s a strong link between stress and negative health outcomes, like high blood pressure,” she says. “If you think you may be burned out, that warrants a visit to your primary care provider.”

Liverman also encourages you to normalize taking care of your mental health. Consider talking with a counselor for support. You don’t have to participate in long-term therapy, but talking with a mental health professional can equip you with the tools to enjoy your life again with less stress and more wellness.

Last, but certainly not least, implement self-care.

“Make self-care a priority,” she says. “Your ability to care for yourself and others is contingent on your own well-being.”

We make getting great health care simple and convenient. Schedule an appointment today through your Piedmont MyChart account or our website.


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