Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

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

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...

Beating the Stigma: Workhorse Battalion and H2F Team Up to Improve Physical Readiness

Article Around MHS
6/24/2022
Military personnel bench pressing

To help counter that stigma of being "broken", the 10th Division Sustainment Troops Battalion “Workhorse,” 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade, and the brigade’s Holistic Health and Fitness team, also known as H2F, joined forces to create the Unbreakable Warrior program, also known as UBW.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Physical Fitness

Army, Navy Public Health Officials Collect Weapon System-related Health Hazard Data in Support of Blast Overpressure Exposure Assessment

Article Around MHS
6/21/2022
Military personnel by M777 Howitzer

A team of scientists and engineers from the U.S. Army Public Health Center and the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center recently traveled to Fort Carson to conduct a Joint Service Member Occupational Health Assessment, also known as a JSOHA, of the M777 Howitzer—a weapon that is routinely used in military training and combat operations.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Health Readiness

Chlamydia is the Military's Most Common Sexually Transmitted Infection

Article
6/21/2022
Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S., and most people who have it don’t know it. You may be able to get STI testing and treatment at your local community health clinic. In the photo, a service member at Naval Medical Center Camp LeJeune Community Health Clinic gets tested for STIs.  (Photo: Naval Medical Center Camp LeJeune Public Affairs)

Rates for Chlamydia have been rising in recent years. Chlamydia can cause permanent damage that can make it difficult or impossible for women to get pregnant. It often shows no symptoms at all but in some cases, it can cause a burning sensation when peeing in both men and women.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Sexually Transmitted Infection Prevention

How MHS GENESIS will become essential to patients' health journey

Article
6/21/2022
Dr. Robert Marshall, program director of the Department of Defense Clinical Informatics Fellowship at Madigan Army Medical Center.

Ensuring proper training of both providers and patients is essential for the successful integration and sustainment of MHS GENESIS into MHS care.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Health Care Technology | MHS GENESIS Toolkit | Electronic Health Record: MHS GENESIS | MHS GENESIS

LRMC CNS Fuels Progression in Military Medicine

Article Around MHS
6/17/2022
military personnel in neonatal care class

Army Maj. Rebeccah Dindinger serves as a Clinical Nurse Specialists at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Women's Health

Tactical Diaper Bags and Other Fathers' Day Tips from a Marine Officer

Article
6/16/2022
Tactical Diaper Bags and Other Fathers' Day Tips from a Marine Officer

“When we deploy, our lives become simpler, while theirs become more complex: In addition to missing their husband and father, they are missing someone who should be helping to shoulder the burden that military life places on kids.”

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness

Tactical Diaper Bags and Other Fathers' Day Tips from a Marine Officer

Photo
6/16/2022
Tactical Diaper Bags and Other Fathers' Day Tips from a Marine Officer

An experienced military dad offers advice to new service members beginning their parenting journey.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness

Protecting Your Hearing and Vision is a Personal Readiness Mission

Photo
6/14/2022
Protecting Your Hearing and Vision is a Personal Readiness Mission

Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Dominique Campbell drives a forklift on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) during a vertical replenishment. She is wearing proper hearing and vision protection.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Medical Readiness Training Exercise strengthens local partnerships and skills

Article Around MHS
6/13/2022
Military personnel working together during a global health engagement

As part of the U.S. Southern Command’s enduring partnership to Central America, Joint Task Force-Bravo executed a three-day Global Health Engagement in Comayagua, Honduras, June 1-3, working side by side with local military and Ministry of Health personnel.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Expectant Moms Have Group Option for Prenatal Care

Article Around MHS
6/10/2022
Midwife helps expectant military mom during pregnancy

The San Antonio Market offers a group obstetric model for pregnant women at Brooke Army Medical Center.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Women's Health

DGMC Trains Medics on TCCC, Boost Readiness for Next Battle

Article Around MHS
6/9/2022
Military medical personnel in classroom

Medics at David Grant USAF Medical Center on Travis Air Force Base, California, are being trained monthly during a week-long course on tactical combat casualty care in an Air Force-wide initiative to standardize medical readiness training for all service members.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Health Readiness

Tips for Military Parents Planning PCS Moves with Children

Article
6/2/2022
Moving can be hard on military families, especially on children. Moving to a new home, going to a new school, finding new friends – it can be unsettling for kids of any age. Yet there are things that service members can do to prepare for a permanent change of station move that can make for a smoother transition for the children.

Moving can be hard on military families, especially on children. Moving to a new home, going to a new school, finding new friends – it can be unsettling for kids of any age. Yet, there are things that service members can do to prepare for a permanent change of station move that can make for a smoother transition for the children.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Total Force Fitness

Medical Readiness Key to Lead-Wing Deployment

Article Around MHS
6/2/2022
2rd OMRS medical insignia patch

Air Combat Command has tasked the 23rd Wing to be Lead-Wing ready in October of 2022 and medically preparing Airmen for a Lead-Wing deployment is no small feat.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Combat Support

Could a Therapy Dog Help with Your Dental Anxiety?

Article
6/2/2022
Air Force Brig. Gen. Goldie, a facility therapy dog at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, helps reduce anxiety in a patient with complex dental conditions that require multiple appointments. The use of therapy dogs is part of an ongoing study with these patients.

A first-of-its-kind study at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is researching whether using facility therapy dogs in dentists’ offices could reduce patient anxiety and improve outcomes for military dental treatment programs.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Total Force Fitness

PTSD Awareness Month - Treatment Works

Infographic
6/1/2022
PTSD Awareness Month - Treatment Works

Experiencing #PTSD can make one feel hopeless. Fortunately, there are strategies and treatments that WORK to relieve PTSD symptoms. Don’t wait, seek help today. #PTSDAwarenessMonth www.health.mil/ptsd

Recommended Content:

June | Total Force Fitness | Psychological Fitness | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 44
Refine your search
Last Updated: May 27, 2022

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.