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What is burnout? 

Burnout is a state of feeling mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. People become burned out when they are under excessive stress for an extended period of time. People who do not practice self-care may be most susceptible to experiencing burnout. Work can be a major source of stress that can ultimately lead to people feeling burned out. This happens when we continuously take on more than we are able to without breaks and while ignoring signs of burnout, such as fatigue. When burned out, it’s common for people to feel overwhelmed and hopeless for change. 

How does burnout affect me? 

Burnout affects us in multiple domains of functioning. When burned out, many people experience physical symptoms such as headaches/migraines, stomachaches, and chronic and excessive fatigue. Burned out individuals may also experience poor work performance – like failing to meet deadlines and reduced creativity. Further, burnout affects our emotional capacity and mood, leaving many people to feel cynical, angry, irritable, and depressed. More often than not, people who are burned out have been feeling burned out for quite some time and by the time they realize they are burned out, they feel as though they are “running on fumes.” 

How to prevent and tackle burn out?

It’s important to pay attention to the signs our bodies give us and not just pass it off as normal stress or just being tired. It’s easier to prevent burn out than it is to treat it, but self-care can be a lot of help for individuals dealing with burnout. A lot of the time when we feel burned out, we may engage in things that make us feel better in the moment, like TV or substance use, but these remedies only help temporarily. In order to truly prevent and tackle burnout, it’s important to implement a self-care plan that’s sustainable in the long run. This can include things like a workout routine, a healthy sleep schedule, drinking enough water and eating well, practicing mindfulness, setting boundaries at work and with loved ones, and seeing a therapist. All of these great options to reduce the effects of burnout get you to feeling like yourself again; it just takes a little time and exploration to develop and implement a self-care routine that’s right for you. 

This page is also part of the Roamers Therapy Glossary; a collection of mental-health related definitions that are written by our therapists.

While our offices are currently located at the South Loop neighborhood of Downtown Chicago, Illinois, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more. You can visit our contact page to access detailed information on our office location.