“Burnout” In 2021

Individual Counseling Insights brought to you by California Psychotherapeutic Resources, Inc.

Back in the good old pre-pandemic days, when we worked too hard or were simply juggling too many balls in the air, we might tell a friend we were “burned out.” Now, after a year and half of lockdowns, social distancing, online schooling and all the rest, “burnout” may not adequately capture our state of mind. Instead, psychologists are using a helpful phrase called “emotional exhaustion.”

An exhausted woman

In an article on Healthline, Jacquelyn Cafasso says, “People experiencing emotional exhaustion often feel like they have no power or control over what happens in life. They may feel ‘stuck’ or ‘trapped’ in a situation.

“Lack of energy, poor sleep, and decreased motivation can make it difficult to overcome emotional exhaustion. Over time, this chronic, stressed-out state can cause permanent damage to your health.

“Anyone experiencing long-term stress can become emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed. In difficult times, emotional exhaustion can sneak up on you, but it’s never too late to get help.”

The signs of emotional exhaustion include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Physical fatigue
  • Irrational anger
  • Depression

If you’re feeling many of these or similar symptoms, there are ways to begin healing. Try the following:

  • Eliminate the stressor. If you suspect the root cause of your exhaustion is your job, think about modifying your duties if possible. In extreme cases you might need to think about a new job.
  • Eat healthy. This is always good advice, but it’s especially important when you’re stressed.
  • Exercise. Again, always good advice but it’s a proven way to improve your emotional state.
  • Limit alcohol. It’s tempting to relieve stress through self-medication, but immoderate levels of alcohol can actually increase your anxiety.
  • Get enough sleep. At the same time, create a routine where you go to bed at roughly the same hour each night if possible.
  • Practice mindfulness. Meditation, yoga and breathing exercises are frequently in the news when the subject is anxiety and depression. For good reason — these techniques are scientifically proven to reduce stress.
  • Connect with a trusted friend. Importantly, let your friend know you’re not asking them to fix your problem — you just need someone to listen. This truly helps.

For a more in-depth discussion of emotional exhaustion, see Cafasso’s full article he