Fight burnout with three Rs

HSE insomnia


Do you get up each day ready to go to work? Or do you dread the thought of going into the pharmacy? Are you excited about the day’s possibilities or do you think that nothing you do at the hospital either makes a difference or is appreciated? Most of us have days that don’t go as we would like or those days when it is just tough to get out of bed and get moving, but if you feel like that most of the time, you may be looking at burnout. And burnout can potentially lead to insomnia.

What is burnout?

Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It doesn’t occur overnight and isn’t the result of just one thing, but it can creep up if the warning signals are ignored. Being a pharmacist is a highly stressful profession, but that alone doesn’t usually lead to burnout. Instead, it usually occurs because you feel overwhelmed, overworked, and/or underappreciated; and the pressures of both work and home can play a part.

The professional and personal rewards that can come from the fast-paced, hectic life of a health-system pharmacist will typically keep burnout at bay. But, over time, if you continually feel like you have little or no control over your work, have unclear or overly demanding job expectations, or work in a chaotic environment with little oversight, you may be a prime candidate for burnout. Burnout is not just about work; the negative effects can have an impact on your home and social life and make you more vulnerable to illness. Because of its consequences, it is important to deal with burnout right away.

Three Rs

Three tips for dealing with burnout are to recognize, reverse, and redo. The first tip is to watch for the warning signs of burnout. The physical symptoms can include feeling tired and drained most of the time, changes in appetite or sleep, and somatic symptoms such as headaches or muscle aches. The behavioral or emotional symptoms can include self-doubt, helpless or defeated feelings, increasingly negative outlook, decreased sense of accomplishment, withdrawal from responsibilities, and increases in work absences or tardiness. If you recognize these symptoms in yourself or in a colleague, remember that burnout will only get worse if left alone. Sometimes talking to a friend at work can help you better recognize what is causing your unhappiness.

The second tip is to reverse the damage from burnout by managing stress and seeking support. Take a proactive approach to issues in the pharmacy. If you are not in a position to solve the problem, talk to your supervisor with potential solutions. If you feel that you are in a work rut, ask for new job duties or responsibilities, but be careful not to overcommit yourself. If necessary, take a complete break from work. Go on vacation or ask for a temporary leave of absence and use the time to recharge your batteries.

The third tip is to reevaluate goals and priorities. Burnout is a sign that something in your life is not working. Take stock of your life, your goals, and your aspirations. Burnout can be an opportunity to rediscover what is most important to you and to move toward that goal. Rather than being negative, burnout can be the opportunity to redo your life and help establish proper work–life balance.

Most health-system pharmacists are very satisfied with their chosen career. But awareness of burnout and the impact that it can have on your work, your personal life, and your health is necessary. Knowing the signs and symptoms and how to manage them can keep burnout from occurring. Battling insomnia because of burnout is not conducive to good patient care.