Recognizing and Managing Burn Out

Recognizing and Managing Burn Out

Fall is a busy time of year, schools start back up and many of us return to a busier schedule as summer vacation comes to an end. With COVID-19 restrictions beginning to lift, Fall 2021 also means a return to working in the office, commuting, taking in-person classes, volunteering, going out on weekends and playing in evening sport leagues. As exciting as it is that our world is becoming a bit more “normal” the adjustment to a busier life style can be just as stressful as it was to adapt to being more isolated than we were ever used to.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health defines burnout as “a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress”. People who are burnt out feel like their batteries are running on empty. They can experienceheadaches and sore joints, they might become withdrawn from activities they enjoy and people they are close to, and become easily frustrated. Burnout may cause people to lose their appetite and motivation, be less productive and sleep poorly even though they are exhausted.

The good news is, the more we know about burnout the earlier we can recognize it and prevent it from happening. Learning to recognize our stressors, setting boundaries and prioritizing self-care are key factors in managing burnout. This can look like:

o Regular physical activity; a walk in the park, yoga or attending your favourite exercise class are all great ways to boost your mood, energy and manage stress.
o Getting a good night’s sleep; sleep can impact our mood, our productivity and our ability to manage stress.
o Eating a balanced diet and staying hydrated; making sure we’re drinking enough water and getting the nutrients we need on a consistent and regular basis
o Work-Life Balance; when the work day is done it’s time to unplug and participate in activities you find restful and enjoyable.
o Stay connected; withdrawing from our friends and family is easy to do when we are overwhelmed.


Setting boundaries and prioritizing self-care can be difficult, but very important in managing and preventing burnout. Need support? An OT would be happy to help; virtual, in-person and phone-based appointments available.

-Amelia Fletcher, OT