Signs of Burnout

Signs of Burnout
Are you suffering from the Sunday night blues? And does Monday morning bring a pit in your stomach? Does work drain all of your energy?  These may all be signs of burnout.
For many, burnout seems to be the cost of passionately caring about others. But it doesn’t have to be this way. This is the first post in a series on burnout. Today we will start by understanding the signs of burnout. It is always important to know what we are looking for, so we can catch it early or, better yet, prevent it.
The term burnout is attributed to Herbert Freudenberger. He defined burnout as “a state of fatigue or frustration brought about by devotion to a cause, way of life, or relationship that failed to produce the expected reward.” (Freudenberger and Richelson, Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement, 1980)
This definition resonates with me as I have found that managing stress, counter-transference, and burnout are often about managing expectations. Having unrealistic expectations of clients, programs, supervisors, coworkers, policy makers, etc. leaves us stressed and frustrated. When you notice stress and frustration creeping in, it is a good time to remember what is in your sphere of control, what is outside your control, and how much influence you have.
prevent burnout #burnout


Here are some common signs of burnout among social workers and therapists:

  • dread going to work
  • feeling tired all the time
  • overwhelmed
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • hopelessness
  • apathy
  • health problems (headaches, stomachaches, muscle aches)
  • insomnia
  • resentment
  • irritability
  • difficulty concentrating
  • Mistakes
  • procrastination
  • decreased productivity, missing deadlines
  • boredom
  • disillusionment
  • giving up or not setting professional goals
  • conflicts with colleagues or supervisors
  • use of unhealthy coping (alcohol/drugs, food)

How many signs of burnout do you have? What other signs are you noticing? Please join our mailing lists and visit us again for the next part of the Burnout Series.
Signs of Burnout #burnout


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. May 25, 2015    

    Great topic Sharon! Look forward to this series:)

  2. August 27, 2017    

    This is a great list!

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  1. Coping with Burnout | Social Work Supervision & Coaching on June 1, 2015 at 12:26 am

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