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  • Suzanne Muirheid

Managing Emotional Burnout in 2021

Let’s do a quick check-in: Are you feeling exhausted and/or more irritable? Are there times when you feel that you are useless or unproductive? Do you find yourself to be more cynical lately? Do you have trouble focusing? Maybe you are having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep? Are you have more headaches or stomachaches? Are you feeling depressed? Do you find yourself using food or alcohol more to feel better?

These may not apply to you, but unfortunately, I very frequently hear “yes” to most of these questions followed by something along the lines of “Well, that’s just 2020.” We can all agree that this past year has been one of stress, fear, and uncertainty. The symptoms described above are signs of stress that can lead to burnout. It’s important to note that burnout is not just a work-related issue, and can happen in various situations. It is also not a diagnosis, but it is an issue to seek help with if symptoms/signs do not improve. Unaddressed burnout can lead to more serious concerns.

Even though 2020 is going to soon be over, for some, the feelings of stress still linger as we enter 2021. We cannot control what this year brings, but we can control how we respond to the upcoming events and how we try our best to take care of ourselves along the way.

Instead of ideas for New Year’s Resolutions, here are 5 reminders of how we can manage stress to hopefully reduce the possibility of burnout as we enter 2021:

Practice Gratitude

In difficult times, it can be helpful to appreciate what we do have, versus focusing on what we don’t. This can include being around friends and family (even virtually), writing a thank you letter to someone, keeping a gratitude journal, creating a couple/family gratitude jar, or even trying to find the gift or lesson in certain experiences.

Work on self-compassion

Self-compassion is related to how we see ourselves and the love we can turn inward. The same compassion that you might provide a good friend, is the compassion to try to give yourself. This is easier said than done for a lot of people and takes practice.

Setting boundaries

Boundaries can be hard to put in place, especially if we are worried about how others will respond and/or feel guilty as a result. However, boundaries are necessary for our well-being, self-esteem, and in some cases, safety. Focusing on what we can control, will allow us to recognize that we cannot control how others respond. Boundaries are not just limited to physical space and emotions, but also thoughts, items/possessions, time, etc.

Increase sense of self-efficacy

When you believe you can handle situations or accomplish tasks, this decreases the level of stress due to the perspective that you will be able to cope. One way to increase the sense of self-efficacy is to set goals for yourself; however, remember to make them realistic and start small. When we are stressed, patience is harder to practice, and we just want to see the results now! As hard as it might be, try breaking down your goals into smaller parts and focusing on one piece at a time.


Self-care is going to look different for everyone because it depends on where you are physically and emotionally. Stop comparing yourself to others, and tune into what it is that you need. Whether it is engaging in mindfulness or a movement-based activity, setting aside time (even 15 minutes) to engage in a creative outlet, and/or even simply taking a bath/shower, find activities that give you a sense of balance and feel reenergizing. For many other ideas see the link:

If you are feeling stressed or think that you might be experiencing symptoms of burnout, please reach out for support. Calm Mind Counseling Center has clinicians who are available to provide help in navigating these difficult times and emotions.

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