Published on September 11th, 2023 | by University of Mississippi


Avoiding Burnout: University of Mississippi Expert Offers Tips for Getting Second Wind, staying in the Race

Burning the candle at both ends can lead to burning out completely, but a University of Mississippi counselor has suggestions to avoid reaching the breaking point

The most common burnout symptoms include fatigue, disturbed sleep, lack of energy and headaches. It is important to recognize these symptoms early, said Juawice McCormick, director of the UM Counseling Center.

“If you feel out of gas, overtired, exhausted and take on tasks much more slowly – if you feel overwhelmed with all there is to do, you might be experiencing burnout,” she said. “Also, if you are quick to anger or are quick to experience frustration, you may be experiencing burnout.”

Although burnout is often associated with stressful work environments or demands, a person can experience burnout in other areas of their life, McCormick said. And if ignored, burnout can cause health problems.

“Remember that burnout and depression may appear to be the same thing at first glance, but they are two different conditions,” she said. “Depression is a diagnosable condition. Burnout is a situational condition.”

For example, if a person takes a vacation to the beach and steps away from the routine pace of life, they can do a lot to alleviate burnout. But if they suffer from depression, then that individual will continue to experience depression at the beach.

“You take your symptoms with you,” McCormick said. “Burnout can, however, lead to depression unless you take steps toward self-care.”

Avoiding Burnout

McCormick offered some tips for staying away from burnout:

  • Work to establish and maintain boundaries between personal and work life. It is hard to say no, but it is excellent self-care to not always be “on call.”
  • Be intentional about your diet and your daily routine. Try to anticipate events that cause anxiety, such as difficult conversations or requests.
  • As you anticipate that upcoming event, jot down some notes about it. Center your intention about how to work toward a positive outcome.
  • Ask for help. Asking for help does not mean you are failing; it means you are trying to make something better. This is why teams work well – they help and support each other, and no one person is responsible for everything.

Bouncing Back from Burnout

Do not panic if you determine you are burning out, McCormick said.

“Develop a good sleep routine and stick to it,” she said. “Practice mindfulness – live in the moment. Learn how to take deep breaths. Exercise. A daily short walk can work wonders.”

Take a moment to notice the world around you while on a walk, McCormick said.

“The smell of the breeze, the color of the leaves and grass, the sounds, how the pavement feels under your feet as you take each step,” she said.

Other suggestions:

  • Take it slow. Remember that you got burned out by trying to always go 100 mph when that is not necessary. Everything is not “on fire.”
  • Prioritize the events of the day.
  • Practice gratitude in simple ways. For example, think about that person who makes you laugh. Stop a minute and think good thoughts about that person and savor the memory of a shared humorous moment.
  • Explore a new interest or hobby. Keep open lines of communication with your support system. This can include family, friends and others.

By Edwin B. Smith

Juawice McCormick. Submitted photo

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The University of Mississippi, affectionately known as Ole Miss, is Mississippi’s flagship university. A member of the elite group of R1: Doctoral Universities - Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification, Ole Miss has a long history of producing leaders in public service, business, academics and the professions. Its 16 academic divisions include a major medical school; nationally recognized schools of accountancy, law and pharmacy; and an Honors College acclaimed for a blend of academic rigor, experiential learning and opportunities for community action. Acclaimed as one of the nation’s most beautiful, Ole Miss's main campus is in Oxford, which is routinely recognized as one of the nation's best college towns.

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