Avoid burnout as a healthcare professional

Burnout occurs in all types of working environments, however, due to the complexities and pressures of working as a healthcare professional, you may potentially experience burnout more frequently. We have put together a whole guide to burnout, keep reading to get some tips and advice about how to prevent and overcome it.


Causes of burnout 

Burnout can be caused by many different factors, these include work-related causes (such as a high-pressure working environment or lack of control), lifestyle factors (such as a poor work-life balance, a lack of sleep, bad diet or a lack of support) or even socio-political causes (such as insufficient NHS funding or increased pressure on NHS staff).


Signs of burnout

These can be difficult to spot and easy to ignore. Symptoms include low work rate, bursts of anger, difficulty prioritising, rejection of constructive criticism, defensiveness, feeling tired all the time, frequent headaches, difficulty concentrating, constant worrying, feeling demotivated. These are just some of the main signs but there are many more to look out for, click here to view Mental Health UK’s guide on spotting the symptoms of burnout.


Effects of burnout

Burnout can cause mental and physical exhaustion which can lead to an inability to meet work demands and responsibilities. This can have a negative impact on your ability to deliver patient care safely. Burnout can also lead to an increased number of sick days due to your need for rest.


How to prevent burnout?

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle – eat healthy foods, prioritise your sleep and exercise regularly
  • Ensure you prioritise a good work-life balance, so you have time to relax and reset
  • Do something you enjoy every day – whether that’s reading a few chapters of your book, having a bath, watching your favourite TV show, or going on a walk
  • Find something that helps you relax – try out different relaxation methods and see what works for you, this could be yoga, stretching, mediation or journaling
  • Connect with others – make plans with friends or family and talk to them about your issues, they may help you by providing useful advice and solutions
  • If you start to feel overwhelmed at work, remember you can always take 5 minutes to relax and breath. Don’t try to power through it because it could lead to making mistakes and potentially compromising on patient safety
  • If something at work, such as your workload, is causing you to feel stressed or drained, ensure that you communicate this to your manager who can offer you the needed support
  • Some clinical cases may be challenging and cause psychological aftermath, so ensure you get the right training and support to be able lessen the emotional burden from these


How to recover from burnout?

  • Find the source – are there any stress triggers that you experience? Is your workload becoming difficult to handle?
  • Communicate – once you identify the source of your burnout, communicate to the people that can change this source, for example your manager.
  • Identity immediate changes that you can make – understand your limit and set boundaries. Learn to say no to people so your to-do list doesn’t pile up and you have time to get through existing responsibilities
  • Take back control – make to-do lists to prioritise your responsibilities, delegate tasks, don’t take work home, talk to potential people involved in the source of your burnout and be firm to them about your needs


Resources to help overcome burnout:


Royal College of Psychiatrists Guide 

NHS Practitioner Health

British Medical Association