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Spark Your Fire Back from Burnout

Updated: May 8, 2023

By: Alana Tristan, MS, LPC-A, Supervised by Roxanne Deams, LPC-S.

Have you ever felt exhausted beyond belief? Too overwhelmed with emotion that almost everything seems to sting?

Being so close to the finish line of a goal but feeling as if you must do front-strokes on the floor to get there? Well, that my friends, is the sound of Burnout creeping up. You know, the reaction to prolonged stress we all attempted to avoid. Herbert Freudenberger, who first coined the term in 1974, defined it as, “the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one’s devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce desired results.”

Burnout can show up emotionally, mentally, and even physically in different areas of our life such as work, school, and/or relationships. It can stem from things like depression, imposter syndrome, and other forms of anxiety. Being overwhelmed can take a toll on our bodies. Let’s imagine trying to pick up bags from baggage claim at the airport…we can grab one, two, maybe three. We tell ourselves, “Okay, I got this!” but more bags keep coming. Yikes! We simply cannot grab all bags that come out at once. It would physically drain us trying to keep up. Next thing you know, we are burnt out.

Sometimes self-care can feel like aftercare; and that is okay too. It is important to prevent signs of burnout or identify symptoms early on before the flame is fully out. Listen to the signs our body is trying to communicate.

Here are some symptoms of Burnout:

  • Unexplained exhaustion

  • Feeling negative, irritable, or numb to situations

  • Change in sleep patterns (e.g., insomnia)

  • Anxiety

  • Lack of motivation and/or task completion

  • Neglecting self-care

Seem familiar? I sure have been down this road before. However, there are things we can do to either prevent burnout or help us spark our fire back.

Helpful Tips:

  1. Get enough sleep: I know, I know…easier said than done sometimes, but routine sleep schedules and/or naps are good for our bodies.

  2. Identify the source of your stress: can help us know where to set boundaries.

  3. Set boundaries: with yourself, work, and/or others.

  4. Stay hydrated: H2O for the win!

  5. Practices/Rituals: meditation, journaling, mindfulness, exercise…you name it!

  6. Unplug/Disconnect: take a break; plan a vacation or staycation out of the environment that is stressing you.

  7. Prioritize your needs: do something you enjoy!

It takes strength to carry out our daily activities, but we cannot underestimate the strength it takes to acknowledge when things become too heavy to bear. It is okay to put the bags down, rest for a bit, and get your fire back!



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