Maybe it’s burnout

Maybe it’s burnout

(or you’re on your way there)

In our industry, burnout is a prevalent occupational phenomenon that can silently creep into the lives of pharmacists and health professionals. As a pharmacist, I’ve experienced the toll chronic stress can take firsthand. Recognising the warning signs of burnout has become crucial for me to navigate the challenges of my career while maintaining my well-being. In hopes of helping you identify your own warning signs, I want to shed light on mine and share how I address them when they appear.

My Top Five Warning Signs:

  1. Dispirited Feelings: One of the most noticeable signs for me is a shift in my usually optimistic mindset. When the weight of the workload begins to overshadow my positive outlook, it serves as a red flag that burnout may be looming.
  2. Difficulty Concentrating: An inability to concentrate on tasks that once came easily is a classic sign of burnout. When this starts to set in, I find myself spending hours on simple tasks, and the mental fog makes it challenging to string together cohesive thoughts.
  3. Unproductivity and Social Media Escapism: Burnout often leads me to seek refuge in unproductive activities, such as mindlessly scrolling through social media (or eating!). This not only exacerbates the difficulty in concentrating but also becomes a telltale sign that I’m not using healthy coping mechanisms.
  4. Apathy Takes Over: Apathy is the silent saboteur of passion and empathy. When I start feeling indifferent and my ability to empathise diminishes, I know I’m heading in the wrong direction. It’s a dangerous state that can lead to further disengagement from my work, and worse, my friends!
  5. Short-Fused Responses: As a generally patient person, a shortened fuse becomes a glaring indicator of burnout for me. Irritation at minor inconveniences signals that my stress levels are escalating, and it’s time to intervene.

What do I do when I notice the warning signs?

After many hard lessons of trying to keep soldiering on or fix everything myself. These are now my top five go-to things when I notice the warning signs.

  1. Say No: Learning to say no has been a game-changer. Whether it’s additional tasks or commitments, setting boundaries is crucial in preventing burnout. Prioritising my well-being over an overwhelming workload has become a priority. Not to mention, my capacity for important work improves when I say no! Win-win!
  2. Tell People: Communication is key. I’ve found that openly discussing my feelings of burnout with colleagues, friends, or family helps alleviate the burden. Sharing the load and seeking support is not a sign of weakness but rather a proactive step toward resilience. Most of the time, people want to help if they can, give them the opportunity to do so.
  3. Take Things Off My To-Do List: Recognizing that my to-do list can contribute to feelings of overwhelm, I actively prioritise tasks and remove non-essential items. Narrowing my focus allows me to become more methodical in my approach, helping me regain control and conserve valuable energy.
  4. Make Time for Mindfulness: In the midst of a hectic day, dedicating a few minutes to mindfulness practices becomes a non-negotiable. Whether it’s a series of square breaths, a short walk outside during lunch, or a grounding exercise, these moments serve as a reset button. Mindfulness prevents me from succumbing to unproductive coping mechanisms and fosters a sense of calm amid chaos. Learn more about other options here.
  5. Rest and Recharge: During periods of burnout, the inclination to push harder often arises. However, I’ve learned that, counterintuitively, this is the time to intentionally pause and rest. Taking purposeful breaks, even if it feels like I can’t afford the time, is essential. Whether it’s a short walk, some sleep, or engaging in a favourite hobby, these intentional breaks contribute significantly to recharging my physical and mental batteries.

If you would like to learn about more the signs of burnout and assess the likelihood that you may be experiencing it (or trending in that direction). Download our free (non-standardised) assessment tool.

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