Expert Health Articles

Avoiding Burnout

Stephanie Rodriguez, APRN-CNP

Certified Nurse Practitioner
North Baltimore Medical & Diagnostic Center

We have all experienced occasional stressful days but can generally manage with anticipation that a relaxing period will follow. Burnout, however, is different. Burnout is “A state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.” We see this in family life, work life and even as a whole community. How do we know if we’re suffering from burnout? Here are just a few signs: fatigue, this does not mean just sleepy, but also unmotivated or lack of energy; feeling apathetic or dissatisfied with work; headaches; cynical outlook; changes in sleep pattern.

How can this affect us long term? Long-term stress can lead to anxiety disorders, detachment, hypertension, a strained immune system and poor work performance, to name just a few. Burnout generally spills into community systems as well, such as in healthcare. For example, one study in 2019 found that “54 percent of nurses (in the U.S.) experience moderate burnout and 28 percent experience high or severe level of burnout.” This can ultimately lead to individuals leaving a profession or are unable to perform to standards. Ultimately, a wave begins with more and more demands to fewer and fewer individuals. There is nearly a 20 percent increase in demand for mental health services over the last year and a half, meaning the nation could, if not already, be facing a mental health crisis. 

What can we do to help minimize or stop this? 

Take breaks or include “personal check-ins” throughout your schedule

Allow for a chance to push “pause” and let the mind focus on something other than a stressor or task at hand. This can be as simple as stepping away from your desk, or blocking a “no-call” period in your schedule.


Exercise has been found to help reduce stress, improve heart health and maintain a healthy weight. Even just 10 minutes a day of low-impact exercise, such as walking, can be effective.

Enforcing work-life boundaries

Some may even lock up phones or laptops while at home to ensure they are genuinely enjoying time with their friends and family.

Developing a hobby 

Hobbies bring a sense of fun and freedom. Having something to look forward to improves mood, promotes engagement and can provide a distraction.

Speak to a mental health specialist

Sometimes we really do need someone to talk to. If anxiety or stress is greatly impacting your health and well-being, please consider reaching out to a specialist. No one should have to cope alone. 

Please remember, your happiness is priceless. There is always another job offering more, another chance for opportunity, another chance to gain accolades, etc. But not always another chance to share memories with friends and family.