5 Signs You’re Burned Out as a Physical Therapist

stressed man

Feeling tired, sluggish, and apathetic towards your staff, clinic, and patients? You’re not alone. Getting burnt out is a common side effect of being overworked and stressed out. All work and no play make you more than just dull. It can impact the quality of care and attention you give to your patients. Burnout can put stress on your relationships in and outside of work. Finally, burnout can have adverse side effects on your overall physical and mental health. These are 5 signs you’re totally burnt out and how to fix them so you can be happy, healthy, and an effective physical therapist to your patients.

You Dread Going to Work

Work may not be your favorite place in the world but it shouldn’t be the place you dread the most. If you’re waking up most mornings dreading going into work and helping patients, you’re probably burnt out. Burn out can reduce the quality of care and attention you give to patients which isn’t fair to the patients or to you as a PT.

How to Fix it: Take a vacation! Whether you actually go somewhere or take a staycation, just take a few days off. Even if it feels like an impossible feat to do, taking the time to rest, reset, and recalibrate will help you get your mind back on track and feel better overall.

You Feel Apathetic Towards Patients and Their Pain

Do you remember why you wanted to be a physical therapist? We’d guess that helping people was likely at the top of the list of your reasons why. If you’re starting to feel apathetic towards your patients and their complaints then you might be in the later stages of burn out.

How to Fix It: Remember your “why.” Why did you fall in love with physical therapy? Why did you want to start helping people in the first place? Whatever your why, get back to that. You might have to break out the pen and paper for this one.

You’re Mentally Checked Out

Spacing out in meetings, one-on-ones, and just in general while at work? That’s one of the biggest signs of burnout. Being mentally checked out doesn’t just impact you; it can impact the health and safety of your staff and patients. Checking out mentally causes careless mistakes, thoughtless mishaps, and can create unnecessary chaos.

How to Fix It: Take some time off! You don’t need to go on a full vacation but taking a few days to yourself can have a massive positive impact on your ability to stay mentally checked in.

You’ve Lost Interest in Your Activities

Are you struggling to derive joy from the activities that used to once bring you lots of happiness? Burn out can make even your most beloved activities seem dull. If journal clubs, research, and con-ed have suddenly lost their sparkle, that should be your biggest red flag that you’re burnt out.

How to Fix It: Pick up a new hobby or activity! If your previous activities seem more than lackluster, introduce some new into your life. It doesn’t have to be work related either. Try a new workout class, check out a new coffee shop, or just reunite with an old friend to bring back that sparkle.

You Can’t Stop Complaining to Friends and Family

Are you starting to sound like a broken record to friends and family about how unhappy you are at work? While we all have bad days, if you’re starting to feel people getting annoyed with your complaining but you still can’t seem to stop, you’re burnt out. Your friends and family can only endure so much complaining about work.

How to Fix It: The first step is to stop complaining. If you can’t change or fix the thing you’re complaining about then you need to accept that it is what it is. Next, figure out what you can change or fix and then get to working on ways you can change or fix the situation you are struggling with. You may not realize at first how sometimes even the most simple solutions can have profound impacts on your happiness.

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Candace Gasper