“My candle burns at both ends/it will not last the night.” —Edna St. Vincent Millay

Burnout is a condition that affects us physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially and spiritually.

One of the first physical symptoms of burnout is fatigue.

Intellectually, there may be a loss of creativity and sharpness in problem solving; cynicism may replace enthusiasm.

Emotionally, the loss of dreams and expectations can result in feelings of helplessness and depression.

In the social realm, isolation overtakes feelings of involvement.

Spiritually, a person experiencing burnout may feel a lack of meaning or purposelessness to life.

According to a recent study, one in three Americans is expected to burn out on the job in the near future and, in the two years preceding the study, 14% of the work force quit or changed jobs due to job stress.

How can you avoid becoming one of the burnout statistics?

First, recognize the warning signs:

  • feelings of frustration and never being caught up
  • lack of control about how to do your job or what goes on in the workplace
  • emotional outbursts
  • withdrawal and isolation
  • dread of going to work
  • frequent sickness or health problems
  • increased use of alcohol, drugs or food consumption
  • a desire to quit (or run away) but a fear of doing so

Taking a few days off or a vacation to Tahiti won’t contain the burnout and neither will simply leaving one job for another. Burnout has more to do with attitudes, work styles, and behavior than it does the specific job situation. In other words, burnout may be primarily an act of self-immolation.

How to Avoid Burnout

Take the time to set goals and objectives that are attainable and clear. Develop an awareness of your emotions, thoughts and beliefs.

Stress Management
Know your own responses to stress and develop a plan to manage it – exercise, take breaks, leave work at work, make time for play and rest. Prioritize self-care by scheduling it on your calendar.

Support Systems
Family, friends, co-workers, professional organizations—all these support systems can help in times of stress.

Skill Building
Look for challenges and opportunities to learn new skills and participate in activities that use your natural skills, talents and abilities.

Seek a balanced and well-structured lifestyle. Determine what’s important to you and create a lifestyle that embraces and supports you.

Think Positively
Replace negativity with optimistic thinking. Helpless thinking is a major contributor to burnout and although something negative can happen, something positive can also happen. Focus on the positive outcome.

Be Creative
Look for a different approach to the same problems or to unpleasant situations. Break free from your everyday routine. Let your home and workspace express your individuality.

Humor and Playfulness
Humor reduces stress, is essential for mental health and can add years to your life. No wonder they say humor is the best antidote. Enjoy yourself.


Certified Master Coach, Speaker and Author
Founder, Rise Up and Live Wellness

Kelli Risse works with high-achieving women who want to address their stress and improve their lives. 


Author’s content used under license, © Claire Communications