Skip to Main Content

Avoiding Burnout

March 29, 2022 - 3 minute read

Student Slumped Over at Desk

What is burnout?

We've all been there. You feel like you are constantly battling exhaustion (physically, emotionally, mentally) or like you are drowning and can't catch your breath. This is burnout–when you persistently experience mental, physical, and emotional stress. Burnout can be localized to your job or an overall feeling towards all of life's overwhelming demands. 

One essential step to reducing or preventing burnout is recognizing its early warning signs before it worsens. Maybe you feel drained of energy and begin to have difficulty with sleep and appetite; it's challenging to get out of bed, or you feel low empathy, disconnected, cynical, and notice physical symptoms like headaches. These symptoms may affect your relationships and your work, school, and personal life. 

Here are some signs of burnout according to The Maslach Burnout Inventory Manual: 

  • Emotional exhaustion - Emotionally overextended and exhausted by work or life.
  • Depersonalization - Negative, cynical attitude or treating others as objects. 
  • Sense of low personal accomplishment - Feelings of incompetence, inefficiency, and inadequacy. People feel unhappy and dissatisfied with themselves and their performance. This can lead to "learned helplessness" and "chronic bitterness.

Here are a few ways to stay ahead of the game and prevent burnout: 

  • Identify your triggers and warning signs: If you can anticipate your automatic thoughts, body reactions, etc., it can help you to increase mindfulness and disrupt any automatic responses to react negatively. 
  • Externalize your stressors: It is important to get the stressors out of your body. Writing them down can help you deconstruct your thoughts and make them less overwhelming and more manageable.
  • Internal locus of control: What are you in control or not in control of? You can't control external events and factors, but you can manage your efforts, attitudes, decisions, and perspective. Ask yourself–can I see it differently? Can this issue become a learning opportunity or challenge to overcome?
  • Tackle one thing at a time: Small steps are key. Come up with a concrete plan to develop a manageable way to begin addressing the stressor.
  • Build your social support and self-care: Make a list of inner and outer resources for support.
  • Mindfulness - Try this script "Leaves on a stream" or deep breathing. Increasing your ability to stay aware of the present moment can help reduce stress and increase emotional regulation.

If, after these steps, you don't feel the weight lifted, it may be helpful to seek professional help or, at the very least, seek the support of your inner circle. If you find yourself here, you may need to remind yourself that burnout doesn't make you weak or a failure. It simply means that you are living a life of purpose, but there may be too much on your plate. Remind yourself that it is temporary, turn to the list above, and take it one thing at a time! 


The Measurement of Experienced Burnout” by Christina Maslach and Susan Jackson
Leaves on a Stream” by Therapist Aid
Deep Breathing” by Therapist Aid


Madison Park

Madison Park
Clinical Supervisor, Concordia University Irvine Wellness Center, Counseling & Psychological Services

Madison Park is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a MSW from the University of Southern California. Previous to her current role as the Clinical Supervisor at Concordia University Irvine, her extensive work with non-profits focused on serving the foster/adoption population as a therapist and program supervisor. She loves to go for long runs, hikes, and anything outdoors in her free time!

Additional Information: She utilizes trauma-focused, psychodynamic, strength-based, and attachment style approaches. She is a certified Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) therapist and trainer, and additionally trained in Eye-Movement Desensitization Reprocessing therapy (EMDR), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Motivational Interviewing, Seeking Safety, and Suicide Prevention.

Back to top