How to Fight Emotional Exhaustion as a Healthcare Professional

Most healthcare professionals live a busy and overworked life. Despite working long days and crazy hours, they are dedicated to their work and the care they provide. With their schedule and demanding workloads, healthcare professionals often face emotional exhaustion. 

There are steps you can take to prevent emotional exhaustion if you can recognize the signs. Catching it early can help you in many ways, but it will especially help you to keep providing quality patient care. Here’s how to fight emotional exhaustion as a healthcare professional.

What Is Emotional Exhaustion?

Emotional exhaustion usually builds up over a long period of time. If you face stress almost every day at work and at home, then that leads to chronic stress and emotional exhaustion. 

You will notice symptoms of emotional exhaustion in your behavior, your emotions and physically. When you have all three of those symptoms, then it’s time to take steps to address the underlying conditions.

This problem begins slowly and quietly and sometimes it’s hard to tell if you have this problem. But it can be eliminated from your life. You don’t have to live with emotional exhaustion once you know the proper steps to take to keep yourself healthy.

What Causes Emotional Exhaustion?

The cause of emotional exhaustion can be different for everyone. Some people may not find a certain situation as stressful as another.

Healthcare professionals who don’t feel they have the time to take care of themselves may not know that their stress levels are getting too high. Because most healthcare providers work long hours and get emotionally involved with their patients, it’s hard not to get overtired and overworked. 

Signs of Emotional Exhaustion

Diminished Mental Health

Emotional exhaustion can lead to diminished mental health. Many healthcare professionals start to get burnt out over a long period of time of working long days and never seeing an end to the extra workload.

Depression is one of the signs of a decline in mental health. Professionals start to have high levels of anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, and impaired memory which all contribute to some level of depression. 

A Decline in Physical Health

Emotional exhaustion can show itself in your health in very minor or major ways depending on how long you’ve been suffering from burnout. It can show up as neck, joint, and back pain, or it can cause flu-like symptoms that don’t go away. Other people have experienced a chronic cough or continued headaches and sinus pain. 

With emotional exhaustion, you’ll lose that zip you once had jumping out of bed every morning. You’ll feel too emotionally drained and physically exhausted. Exercise for you seems like a luxury only a few people can have. 

Related: 5 Benefits of Making Self-Care Non-Negotiable

Reduced Organizational Performance

Oftentimes, emotional exhaustion will show up in your work. Many healthcare professionals suffering from emotional exhaustion will start to appear tired, frustrated, and they’ll be less committed to their work. 

Many people tend to miss work more often and spread negative attitudes about their work and their coworkers. None if this will improve if you stay on the same path. To move past this, you’ll have to deal with burnout.

How to Fight Emotional Exhaustion

Acknowledge That You Are Suffering From Emotional Exhaustion

Most people live in denial that they have this problem, but the sooner you can acknowledge that you are experiencing symptoms of emotional exhaustion or burnout, the sooner you can work on a remedy. 

Let someone know that you’re not okay and that you need help. Seek out a professional to help you. Telling someone is half the battle. Talking with someone about your situation is the first step to helping you get better. 

Figure Out Why You’re Experiencing Emotional Exhaustion

Take some time to think about why you’re experiencing emotional exhaustion. There could be several reasons or just a few. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint all the reasons at once especially if you are in a deep depression.

Look at your everyday life and try to understand what is causing the burnout. Is it the long days? Is it the extra paperwork every night? With all the things you should consider, find out which is the most taxing on you personally. Make a list if it’s more than one thing. 

Find a Solution

Start thinking about finding a solution for each situation that causes you stress. 

You may think your problem is too big to find any changes you can make. Or you may think it’s impossible to cut back on your work hours because there’s nobody else who can do the work for you right now. 

Trust yourself. Give yourself time to come up with a solution. If there are several areas you need to change in order to prevent burnout, then work on them one at a time. Don’t let your recovery become a source of stress either.

Look for help with your loved ones and/or trusted friends. They may be able to add valuable advice. Sometimes looking for a coach or counselor who knows about this type of situation for healthcare professionals could be a good option. They will offer you lots of strategies and advice to help you get back to a normal healthy life. 

Related: How to Help Stress and Burnout in Healthcare Professionals

Take a Break

Your health needs to be a bigger priority in your life. You won’t be able to help anyone if your health starts to suffer. 

If you’re completely overwhelmed, you might need to think about taking fewer hours. Talk to your boss about scaling back your hours for a while until you feel ready to jump back into your normal hours. 

When was the last time you took a vacation? You probably need one! Take a week or two off work and focus on relaxing. Then you can refocus and come up with more solutions to changing your life for the better and eliminate the burnout.

Take time to focus on yourself.

It may be scary to take time off work because of all the patients you may have, but if it causes overwhelm, then time off will help you recharge and come up with a plan to reduce your workload. 

Take Care of Yourself

If things are piling up at work, you have to take measures to reduce your workload. In some cases, you can hire someone to help you out at work. You can also ask your coworkers for help. Odds are, they’ve been in the same position as you, and they’d be happy to help if their workload isn’t too crazy. 

Make sure you’re getting enough sleep! Grown adults need 7-8 hours of sleep a night to function properly in the mornings. Try and stay away from your phone or Netflix before bed and use some essential oils to help you get restful sleep. Put work away for the night and prioritize getting some rest. 

Exercise is another activity that can help you recover from emotional exhaustion. Get out of the house and get some exercise! You don’t have to go on a three-mile jog right away. Start slow and walk a few times a week. Walking outside will elevate your mood so you don’t feel worn out! 

These simple lifestyle changes can improve your personal and professional life! 


Most cases of emotional exhaustion can be avoided! If you take care of yourself physically and mentally, you won’t have to face burnout and depression. 

It’s difficult to turn down work when it comes your way, but you need to take care of yourself first. You can’t take care of anyone else if you’re not taking care of yourself. Before you commit to something, think of how it will affect you! You can recover from emotional exhaustion, but it’s so much easier to prevent burnout from happening in the first place.

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