Skip to main content

Military Health System

Feeling Burned Out at Work? Here Are Some Tips to Feel Better

Image of Feeling burned out? Tips to understand and avoid burnout. . To avoid burnout, experts recommend taking stock of your work-life balance and making the time to engage in leisure, fun activities, sports, and hobbies you enjoy. (Photo: U.S. Army Maj. Demietrice Pittman)

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Health Readiness & Combat Support

Feelings of burnout are common – when work and other demands in your life get too intense, or if you don't get enough time to rest, you can start feeling physically, emotionally, or mentally exhausted.

The symptoms are real, yet doctors say burnout is not a clinical disorder.

"It's not a diagnosable condition," said Air Force Lt. Col. Daniel Gross, flight commander at the 633rd Medical Group at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, in Hampton, Virginia.

Instead, it is "a syndrome that results in response to running out of energy and emptying the tank," Gross said. It occurs when an individual has an imbalance between "responsibility and task compared to the opportunity to rest and recharge."

Some service members may be at high risk for burnout, regardless of their career field, especially when individual or unit "op-tempo" gets very high.

The good news is that burnout can be mitigated. There are numerous steps that individuals and leaders can take to reduce burnout and its impact.

Diagnosing Burnout

How can you tell if you're burned out?

"You might see reduced stress tolerance, increased irritability, decreased job performance, or relationship stress as a result of running on empty as a result of burning out," Gross said.

Additionally, you might be at risk for burning out when you don't take time to take care of yourself, set emotional boundaries, or establish a healthy work-life balance, said Nancy Skopp, a clinical psychologist and lead researcher for the Health Services & Population Research program at the Defense Health Agency's Psychological Health Center of Excellence.

There are three "key dimensions" of burnout, she says:

  1. An overwhelming exhaustion.
  2. Feelings of cynicism and detachment from the job.
  3. A sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.

Skopp describes burnout as an "individual stress experience within a social context."

Burnout "appears to be particularly common in unsupportive work environments characterized by low morale and teamwork, inefficient workplace processes, excessive workloads, and negative leadership behavior," Skopp explained.

Any part of the military community can pose a risk for burnout.

"Every career field has unique challenges and unique resources," Gross said. "I don't know that there's one particular area, which is at greater risk or vulnerability."

What Can Leaders Do?

It's especially important that leaders pay attention to their teams.

Leaders should make sure that they "have a good understanding of the demands on their troops," Gross said, and that "they do a good job of helping mitigate that burden on their troops, at the same time as managing the downtime and the recovery time for their troops."

Skopp says some tips for leaders trying to minimize burnout might include:

  • Monitor work environment and morale
  • Cultivate workplace cohesion and a culture of teamwork
  • Use rewards and incentives in a consistent and fair manner
  • Provide resources to promote self-care
  • Monitor workloads and ensure enough time in the workday to complete required tasks
  • Reduce inefficient workplace processes
  • In some cases, a key step might be asking a simple question.

"Ask them what they need and help them to get it," Gross suggests.

"All too often, I think that, as leaders, we give airmen what we think they need in order to be okay, and what we think they needed is not what they need."

Noticing Burnout

It's important that individuals recognize the symptoms of burnout and address them when needed.

"When a person begins to notice fatigue, physical and mental exhaustion, poor motivation, and emotional withdrawal, these are signs to seek help and guidance from a mentor or mental health professional," Skopp said.

It's also important for colleagues, friends, and family to support people who might be displaying those symptoms, Skopp said.

Symptoms may vary among individuals.

For example, you might have a person who's very outgoing and gregarious who becomes withdrawn and quiet. "That could be a sign that they're burning out," Gross said.

"But you also might have a person that's always just a quiet person, so that person being quiet wouldn't necessarily be a sign that they're burning out," he said.

Key warning signs would include "a marked negative change in mood or interpersonal interactions or ... decreased work performance," Gross said.

Skopp said "irritability and frustration" are also signs of burnout. And since workplace problems often can "bleed" into a person's personal life, burnout can fuel negative behaviors such as alcohol misuse, overeating, or prompt withdrawal from healthy activities socializing or exercise, Skopp said.

Self-care

Individuals should try to take care of themselves to prevent or reduce burnout. Skopp provided the following tips:

  • Eat well – maximize nutrition, minimize processed foods
  • Make time for relaxation, leisure, and fun activities
  • Exercise regularly – even if it's just 10 or 15 minutes on a busy day
  • Develop good sleep habits – aim for between seven and nine hours and set up a wind-down ritual to facilitate rest
  • Establish protective boundaries and respect your emotional needs
  • Separate work life and personal life
  • Cultivate a sense of humor
  • Build strong working relationships with co-workers
  • Recognize the signs of distress and seek help when needed

If you or someone you care about feels burned out, talk to your health care provider or someone you trust for help. Find out how to optimize your performance to prevent burnout and reach total force fitness by connecting your eight dimensions of fitness.

You also may be interested in...

Army dietitian uses nutritional care to fight COVID-19

Article
3/23/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask standing in front of a Nutrition Clinic

Army dietician plays a critical role in COVID-19 patient recovery.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

METC trains dietician techs to build, support a Medically Ready Force

Article
3/18/2021
Military health personnel preparing food trays while wearing a face mask

Nutrition plays an important role in military readiness.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Health Readiness & Combat Support | Education & Training | Medical Education and Training Campus

Women’s health emerging priorities series highlights mental health

Article
3/4/2021
A woman holding her hands near her face

Women’s mental health can be more affected by transitioning than men’s, speakers’ series attendees hear.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Total Force Fitness | Depression | Psychological Fitness

Proper nutrition impacts overall health & readiness

Article
3/4/2021
Man wearing a face mask restocking fruit at a store

Nutritional fitness implications for Total Force Fitness are far reaching.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness

10 ways to support holistic heart health

Article
2/26/2021
picture of a heart running on the treadmill with the words "healthy heart for body and soul. ten ways to support holistic heart health"

Tips for a Total Force Fitness approach to keeping your heart healthy

Recommended Content:

Heart Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Heart Health Toolkit | Heart Health Toolkit

Good oral care requires lifetime commitment

Article
2/25/2021
Military health personnel, sitting in front of a group of children, showing them how to brush their teeth using a stuffed animal

Children’s Dental Health Month focuses on the importance of developing good oral hygiene habits at an early age.

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Children's Health | Total Force Fitness

Eating disorders hinder optimal health and TFF nutrition concept

Article
2/25/2021
a picture of the produce section at a grocery store

Disordered eating lessens Total Force Fitness.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Heart Health Toolkit | Heart Health Toolkit

Proper diet, sleep, exercise, and joy key to heart health

Article
2/24/2021
Military personnel working out at the gym

Heart health is crucial to service members’ readiness throughout their high-stress careers. Working to achieve that takes self-discipline and moderation, but also joy, integrity, and social interaction

Recommended Content:

Heart Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Heart Health Toolkit | Heart Health Toolkit | Heart Health Toolkit

How do you mend a broken heart? It usually fixes itself

Article
2/23/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask, gets his heart checked out by military heath personnel

'Broken Heart Syndrome’ and ‘Holiday Heart Syndrome’ are very real phenomena. Spiritual and social fitness can help mitigate both.

Recommended Content:

Heart Health | Total Force Fitness | Heart Health Toolkit | Heart Health Toolkit

Army hospital powers through record-breaking winter storms

Article
2/22/2021
A military medical center covered in snow

BAMC comes away from major winter storm unscathed.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Readiness Capabilities

Training for a healthy heart can improve overall health

Article
2/22/2021
Military personnel wearing a mask exercising in the gym

Service members must be heart healthy to perform optimally throughout their military careers.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Physical Fitness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Heart Health

Drawing blood, giving back life: techs support medical readiness

Article
2/22/2021
Military health personnel wearing a mask drawing blood from military personnel wearing a mask

Two of the military’s blood technicians say their work is vital and rewarding.

Recommended Content:

Armed Services Blood Program | Health Readiness & Combat Support

Order of Military Medical Merit presented to USU medical student

Article
2/19/2021
Military personnel receiving the Order of Military Merit

Army 2nd becomes the first USU medical student to receive the Order of the Military Medical Merit.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Health Readiness & Combat Support | Global Health Engagement

VCE examines low vision with detection and care

Article
2/18/2021
military health personnel wearing a mask and performing an eye exam

Dr. David Eliason, of the Vision Center of Excellence, says low vision awareness is about prevention, detection, and continuing treatment.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Mobile Apps | Medical Research and Development | | Centers of Excellence | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention

Improving health outcomes, readiness is aim of new grant funding

Article
2/18/2021
Military health personnel wearing a mask giving a shot to a patient

DHA offers funding grants for high-value research that supports better care, better health, and increased readiness, with lower costs.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support
<< < ... 6 7 8 9 10 > >> 
Showing results 76 - 90 Page 6 of 10
Refine your search
Last Updated: May 27, 2022
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery