Burnout: Where Do We Go from Here?

Published Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Burnout: Where Do We Go from Here?

By Caitlund Davidson, Health Promotion and Communications Planner

Rates of burnout have significantly increased throughout the pandemic, especially in health care. This past week, Prevention and Screening Clinical Services at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre hosted a Healthy Get Together virtual session on the topic. At this question and answer session, Kristine Lake, Psychologist, and Martina Nuttall, Clinical Nurse Specialist with the Mental Health Program at our Hospital, explained how to recognize burnout, the effects burnout can have on you and your family, and the steps you can take to overcome burnout.

Q: What is the difference between stress and burnout?

Burnout happens after prolonged periods of stress. It can affect people without them even being aware. We may start to feel indifferent, cynical, negative, or hopeless. We may even lack motivation to do the things we love to do.

Q: What are some examples of situations that cause burnout?

A: We’re all different. Some people may thrive in an environment, where others may struggle. It comes down to balance. We will start to feel burnout when the deadlines and pressures of work or life outweigh the good things or rewards.

Q: What are the impacts of burnout?

People who are experiencing burnout may have anxiety or depression, start to isolate themselves from others, or some may turn to substance use. At work, burnout can make us feel less satisfied with our job, affect attendance rate, lead to errors if we aren’t functioning at our best, and employers may experience a higher turnover rate.

Q: Can burnout have long-term effects?

Yes, we can experience things like depression and anxiety disorders. It can impact our ability to take care of ourselves. Physical issues, like heart disease, have also been associated with burnout. There are a lot of reasons to be concerned about burnout.

Q: How can we prevent burnout?

Recognizing burnout is the best thing we can do. The earlier, the better. Some things we can do to prevent burnout include being realistic in the goals that we set for ourselves, setting personal boundaries, and doing things to take care of ourselves. Changing our attitudes and developing coping strategies can help but our environment also plays a role. Small changes to our environment or work setting may make a difference.

Q: As my children are going back to school after a year of being virtual, is it possible for kids to experience burnout?

Anybody is susceptible to burnout, including children. As school begins, it can be good to get them into a routine as children respond well to structure. Parents should watch for signs in their children, like behavioural changes. We can be present and ask them questions to monitor how they are feeling. As parents, we have an opportunity to teach them coping strategies and intervene on their behalf when necessary.

Q: Does exercising on top of a busy schedule increase your chances of burnout?

This is dependent on the person. Exercising may give people enjoyment or fulfillment. It could have the opposite effect if we start beating ourselves up for not finding time to exercise. Exercise is a factor that will decrease our vulnerability to emotions. We can set a goal to exercise but we need to be realistic and gentle with ourselves. Exercise shouldn’t become another burden.

The Healthy Get-Together provides information about chronic disease prevention strategies and healthy living in a fun and engaging way. These one-hour sessions are held bi-monthly and feature a guest speaker from our Hospital staff or a community expert.

To learn more about burnout and combating its effects, or to view past Healthy Get Together sessions, visit www.tbrhsc.net/healthy-get-together-links


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