Signs of burnout and what you can do about it

Burn out; we’ve all been there at one point or another. You think you’re keeping all your plates spinning and, before you know it, one comes crashing down and you’re trying to spin the others with one hand, whilst tidying up the mess with the other. No, I’m not describing some circus act, (although it can often feel that way!). I’m talking about life and all of the responsibilities that come with it, writes Samantha Smith.


In my first few years as a therapist and coach, I became quite the master at burning out. Like many in my line of work I’m an empath, I feel my client’s emotions and it can be exhausting. Ironically, my seven years training didn’t prepare me for that.

So from one client to the next, I would literally experience an emotional rollercoaster and then at the end of the day I would go home to my two young children and the whole host of adult responsibilities that no rule book prepared me for.

I’ve always valued my empathic nature; it is who I am and I have no desire to change it. This left me with two choices; Burn myself out every few months, damaging my health and causing me to underachieve in my roles, or, find a way to manage it better. I opted for the latter and I’m going to share some of my lessons with you here;

Signs of burn out

  • You’re feeling more irritable than usual and/or lacking in patience
  • You feel underappreciated and over stretched
  • You are emotionally responding to situations when you would usually be able to rationalise things better
  • You are lethargic, run down or keep getting ill
  • You feel guilty whenever you take time out and you can’t enjoy it because your to-do list is ever expanding
  • You’re struggling to relate to or empathise with people

What can you do about it?

  1. First and foremost, you have to accept that whilst you are burnt out because you have so much to do, you’re simply not going to perform your best unless you take time out to address this. Running yourself into the ground is counterproductive!
  2. Take it back to basics- Eat regular meals, hydrate, schedule a good night’s sleep and/or wind down time before bed. If you expect yourself to perform like a machine, then at least treat yourself like one! Fuel up, recharge your batteries and stay well oiled.
  3. If you feel at the mercy of your emotions, then think ‘E-MOTION’. This serves as a reminder that your emotions are triggered by motion. In order to take fast control of your state you need to move your body; sit up straight, go for a quick walk, stand up and stamp your feet. It may feel silly, but your emotions are triggered by your body language. If you are feeling tensed up or slouched in your seat, then your brain will respond with the appropriate emotions. If you change your body state, then your emotional state will soon follow.
  4. Schedule some time for yourself. Do something that you enjoy and can de-stress or look forward to each week.
  5. Stimulate your vagus nerve. Your vagus nerve connects to your heart to lower blood pressure and heart rate.  It is the part of your body which controls your relaxation levels. You can stimulate your vagus nerve by practicing diaphragmatic breathing. The trick is to breathe slowly and deeply from your abdomen.  That means when you breathe in, your abdomen should expand. When you breathe out, it should cave in. The more your belly expands and the more it caves in, the deeper you’re stimulating this nerve. Doing this will reduce your fight or flight response (sympathetic) and enhance your ‘rest and digest’ response (parasympathetic) resulting in a calmer feeling.


For more information on recognising and reducing burnout send your questions to Samantha or arrange a free consultation via



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