Coping with Burnout

Coping with Burnout by Sharon Martin, LCSW


Coping with Burnout


Welcome to the second part in my series about burnout. Last week, I wrote about the Signs of Burnout. This week we’ll be focusing on coping with burnout.

Signs of Burnout #burnout

Now that you are familiar with some common signs of burnout, let’s explore how to deal with it. I mentioned that Freudenberger’s definition of burnout works well for me.

So, what helps when you are burned out?

A vacation?

I doubt it. Don’t misunderstand, vacations are fun and important ways to restore our bodies, minds, and spirits. But if you’re truly burned out, you are way past a vacation solving your problems. A vacation is like putting on a band aid, when you really need surgery.  If you have the ability to take several weeks off, that can be a helpful place to begin resting and gaining clarity.

 A new job?

Perhaps. You really need to understand what is at the root of your burnout. Is it working too much? Is it being around negative or burned out colleagues? Is lack of acknowledgement for hard work and achievement? I do think that at times, a new job can be a needed part of the solution. But I wouldn’t start there.

Start with:

  • Detach your self-worth from the outcomes – You may be the most effective social worker or therapist, but you still can’t help everyone. Tying your self-worth to whether your clients achieve their goals is a sure path to burnout.
  • Get support – This could be in the form of a supportive friend, colleague or supervisor. A therapist can be really helpful in sorting out causes and solutions.
  • Adjust your expectations – Let’s get realistic about your work environment, work load, and company culture. If it doesn’t work for you and can’t be changed, it may be time to move on.
  • Change your thinking – Chances are you are stuck in a negative thinking pattern. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help you identify and change negative thoughts.
  • Practice self-care and set boundaries – Get enough rest, exercise, eat well, get out in nature, socialize, have some fun. Also, remember to set boundaries and don’t take on more work and commitments.
  • Think about your future – Is this the kind of work you really want to do? What are your career goals? What are your personal goals and how does this job support those goals?


Burnout is a serious problem. As social workers, therapists, counselors, psychologists, and coaches we dedicate our selves to helping others. Help yourself first! You are worth it. Not so that you can continue to serve others (although that’s great if you choose to do that), but simply because you are a human being with real needs and feelings that need to be acknowledged. I challenge you to put some of these strategies into practice this week.

Please leave a comment and let us know what else has helped you when burned out. And also feel free to let us know about any other topics you’d like us to address in the blog. Thanks for reading!

Sign-up for our free E-newsletter! Get more tips and articles. Just signup in the sidebar.



Sharon Martin has a passion for clinical supervision, mentoring new social workers, blogging, and reading all things social work related. She is a California Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 20 years in the field. Sharon has worked extensively in Bay Area non-profits and successfully runs a private counseling practice in San Jose. Sharon writes regularly for PsychCentral and the Good Men Project. She's also the author of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism.


  1. Rogers Johnson's Gravatar Rogers Johnson
    June 1, 2015    

    I’m so burned out, I’m mostly need to do nothing everyday, I mean everyday. I am so weak. So weak that I can’t even contemplate. Even this is Was hard for me and I spoke it.

  2. June 1, 2015    

    Sharon, I love the book Trauma Stewardship. Have you read it? The author has a great overview of warning signs that we are being affected by our work and a model to successfully navigate our work without becoming burnt out.

    • June 1, 2015    

      No, I haven’t. I am adding it my reading list. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. August 27, 2017    

    Moving to a more flexible job helped me a lot but it took a lot of bravery to take the leap – I think fear is a big factor in addressing burnout. Sometimes you know you need a change but just can’t take an action step.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to nor should it be used as supervision or clinical guidance, or to diagnose or treat any mental health or medical issues. This page may contain affiliate links which means I receive a small commission on items purchased. I only endorse products I truly believe in.

Blogging for therapists. How to attract clients by blogging. Writing coach. Build therapy private practice.