Top 3 Signs of Burnout in Medical Professionals

Medical Professionals doing their job in a hospital - workplace burnout

Burnout affects us all at some point. It affects many people in many different professions, but generally it results in ongoing stress that takes a toll on you physically, mentally and emotionally. This problem is more likely to manifest itself in Medical Professionals, as you are aware.

Hospitals are a hotbed for trauma. It’s an everyday occurrence that comes with the territory. From A&E and Psychiatric Wards to Intensive and Palliative Care Units, you see a lot of trauma. Across all medical professions, from Doctors, Nurses and Surgeons to Health Support Workers and Hospice Staff, you are likely to experience stress and burnout sooner or later.

Do you find yourself constantly stressed and worried about burning out? If the answer is yes, read on.

Let’s take a closer look at the signs and symptoms of workplace burnout, so you can understand if your stress is telling you, “You’re about to burn out.”

What is Burnout?

At its most basic definition, burnout can be defined as work-related stress. Stress that is ongoing, overwhelming and all-consuming in the workplace.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines burnout as: “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

This includes:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job;
  • Reduced professional efficacy.


Top 3 Burnout Symptoms 

Workplace burnout can show up differently to different people.

Let’s take a look at how burnout symptoms can show up physically, mentally and emotionally.

1. Physical Burnout

“I’m so tired. I can’t go on like this.”

Your life is centered around your work. All those long hours and extra shifts. It becomes second nature to you. You feel that it’s a natural part of the job you’ve signed up to. It is easy to feel passionate about your work and committed to what you do, that it makes it hard for you to leave work at work. You find it hard to shut off when you take off your uniform and walk out the door. How do you keep the motor running when there’s no fuel left in the tank?

Here is how burnout can manifest itself in physical symptoms.

  • You are tired, drained and running on reserves.
  • There’s not enough time for you to eat or sleep, and you always feel weak and low in energy.
  • You’ve taken many sick days – even your colleagues are beginning to worry.
  • You are not the vibrant, healthy and strong person everyone knows you to be.

The truth is that there is always going to be more need than you can possibly meet. If your own physical needs are being compromised then it’s just a matter of time before your body shuts down completely.

Ask yourself…

  • Are you able to take breaks within the day?
  • Do you have enough time to unwind and take care of yourself at home?
  • What do you already do, or you can you start doing, to help you feel physically restored on a daily and weekly basis?

2. Psychological Burnout

“Nothing I do is ever good enough. I’ve failed.”

You are good at your job and have always juggled a lot of responsibilities, yet you punish yourself for not doing things faster or better. In your line of work, you know it’s not possible to meet all the demands and expectations – but this continues to crush your sense of accomplishment and makes you feel like a failure. It can feel as if you’re in some kind of mind trap and you can’t escape. Burnout affects your brain and your self-perception.

Here is how burnout can manifest itself in psychological symptoms.

  • You are feeling demotivated, doubtful and defeated.
  • Perhaps you have an overly negative mindset or pessimistic way of thinking.
  • You lose concentration and your memory starts to fail you.
  • From time to time, you disengage and detach – sometimes this happens when you’re in the middle of seeing your patients because you don’t have any more space to take things in.

It is important to recognise that you are more than enough and your patients value your gift. If you aren’t able to see your own worth in all that you do, you’ll continue spiralling in these unhelpful thoughts – and eventually you won’t be of help to anyone.

  • Can you accept just being good enough?
  • Do you give yourself permission to make mistakes?
  • Are you able to take things at a slower or different pace without feeling guilt or shame?

3. Emotional Burnout

“It’s all too much. I’m in pieces.”

You’re good with people. You can read emotions well and people find it easy to open up to you. Yet when you need the support, you won’t let people in to support you with your emotions. You find it hard to show your vulnerability because you feel you need to be strong for your patients and for your team.

Here is how burnout can manifest itself in emotional symptoms.

  • You are anxious, depressed and stressed.
  • You feel overwhelming waves of different emotions – it feels hard to contain your feelings both at work and at home.
  • When you see trauma, you feel traumatised. It’s like you can’t separate what’s what and who’s who.
  • You feel hopeless and helpless in your role. These feelings seep deep inside you and it takes over you.

Remember: you’re smart, you’re skilled and you have a lot of empathy – that’s what makes you great at what you do. It is perfectly natural that from time to time, the trauma you witness gets under your skin. You can’t contain it all (all the time) and it’s necessary to share and get support.

Ask yourself…

  • Why do you feel you need to keep it all inside?
  • Does a part of you feel like you’ll be a burden to others if you share your stress and worries?
  • What’s really stopping you from sharing and reaching out for support?

Get Help for Stress and Burnout in Central London

Workplace burnout can affect us all, but if you take the steps to recognise burnout symptoms and take action, then you can overcome this. Don’t let your experience of stress and trauma at work take away your love for what you do. You don’t have to carry this burden alone.

If you are ready to take control of your stress and are looking for mental health support, I can help.

Get started with a free 20 minute phone consultation. Let’s chat.


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Please note that this blog is meant to be educational and should not be a substitute for therapy.

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