Stress Management “I Can't Do This Anymore:” What to Do If You Are Experiencing Burnout By Wendy Wisner Wendy Wisner Wendy Wisner is a health and parenting writer, lactation consultant (IBCLC), and mom to two awesome sons. Learn about our editorial process Published on January 28, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Rachel Goldman, PhD, FTOS Medically reviewed by Rachel Goldman, PhD, FTOS Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Rachel Goldman, PhD FTOS, is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker, wellness expert specializing in eating behaviors, stress management, and health behavior change. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Westend61 / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents What “I Can’t Do This Anymore” Feels Like Symptoms Identifying the Causes How to Cope With Feeling This Way All of us have moments when we say to ourselves, “I can’t do this anymore.” Usually, these are times when you feel exhausted, depleted, overwhelmed, and unable to manage life's stressors. In other words, if you're saying to yourself, “I can’t do this anymore,” you might be experiencing the symptoms of burnout. Reaching a breaking point like this isn’t enjoyable, but when looked at the right way, it can be thought of as a wake-up call to make some changes in your life, and to figure out new ways of managing your stress. Let’s take a look at what burnout may look like, what the causes are, how to cope, and when it may become necessary to seek out mental health support. Press Play for Advice On Dealing With Burnout Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares how to combat feelings of burnout. Click below to listen now. Follow Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts What “I Can’t Do This Anymore” Feels Like When the words “I can’t do this anymore” pop into your head, you are usually at a place in your life where you feel emotionally, mentally, and physically unable to cope with everyday things. Maybe you have been working a high-stress job and were trudging through for a while, but then your boss tossed you a project that felt impossible to manage, and you reached your breaking point. Perhaps you are a parent who has been dealing with cranky, sick children for several days. Today you found out your furnace needs to be replaced, and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Burnout can happen to anyone at any time but is most commonly experienced by working people, or people in caregiving types of roles (parents, people caring for older relatives). Burnout isn’t the same as feeling generally tired or overwhelmed. Usually, people who are experiencing burnout have been trying their best to keep it together, but then one thing after another piled up, and they just didn’t have the strength to continue. How to Deal With Anxiety at Work Symptoms The World Health Organization (WHO) says that there are three defining characteristics of burnout. The WHO classification of burnout pertains to burnout at work, but these characteristics can apply to other situations that might cause you to experience intense overwhelm and defeat. Signs of Burnout The three main characteristics of occupational burnout are: Depleted energy and exhaustion Negative feelings, cynicism, and a desire to distance oneself from work Feeling unable to continue to be professional and effective If you are experiencing burnout, you may have gotten to the point where you feel a lack of empathy towards others, and a feeling like you “just don’t care” anymore. You may feel as though nothing you do really matters, and that you are unable to accomplish anything. Burnout and feeling like you “can’t do this anymore” can have physical manifestations as well. You may experience headaches, stomachaches, muscle soreness, and altered sleep and eating patterns. Burnout can increase the risk of substance abuse as well, and people who are feeling burntout may turn to drugs and alcohol for soothing. Burnout vs. Other Mental Health Issues You can experience burnout whether or not you struggle with other mental health conditions. But it’s important to distinguish between feelings of burnout and mental health conditions like depression so that you can get a proper diagnosis and treatment. Both burnout and depression can include feelings of exhaustion, depletion, detachment, sadness, and feeling unable to complete tasks. But while burnout can be treated by taking a few days off work, switching jobs, or practicing self-care, those things aren’t adequate for treating depression. If you are experiencing signs of burnout, along with feelings of hopelessness, very low self-esteem, suicidal ideation, or if you suspect you might be battling depression, please contact a mental health professional. If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. ADHD Symptom Spotlight: Burnout Identifying the Causes Burnout usually is related to work or caregiving roles but it can happen to anyone who is experiencing a build-up of stress or finds themselves in a situation where their resources are depleting quickly, especially if they are not getting outside support. Many people are experiencing burnout right now in light of COVID-19. Burnout is on the rise and you are not alone if you are experiencing it. Some of the individuals most prone to burnout include nurses, doctors, teachers, and social workers, but anyone who works in a job rife with responsibilities and pressure is vulnerable to burnout. People who are part of marginalized communities, and social justice activists may be prone to signs of burnout as well. The most common cause of burnout include: A pile-on of responsibilities or tasks Lack of support at work or in a caregiving role Not feeling listened to or heard Taking on too many responsibilities at once Not practicing self-care, or not having the ability to do so Feeling a lack of control over decisions How Poor Communication Causes Stress How to Cope With Feeling This Way If you are in a place where you are saying to yourself, “I can’t do this anymore,” you shouldn’t feel that you are less than or inadequate in any way. Often, when someone has reached this point, it’s because there is too much on their plate. The truth is, there’s only so much one person can handle. So one of the first things you can do if you have reached a breaking point is to assess your life responsibilities and see if there is anything that can be changed. Ask yourself questions like: “Is this the right job for me? Might it be time for me to look for a new job?”"Is there anything I can take off of my plate and delegate to others?"“Is there anyone I can call on to help me with my children/parents/people I am responsible for?”“Can I afford to hire someone to help me around the house while I deal with my work or caregiving responsibilities? Are there people in my family who can pitch in more with household chores?”“Are there commitments in my life that I can eliminate or postpone for now as I try to manage my other responsibilities?” In addition to trying to change your life circumstances so that they are more manageable, there are some self-care techniques that you may consider adopting to help manage your feelings and your energy so that you don’t continue to feel bogged down quite so much. The American Psychological Association (APA) recommends: Mindfulness and meditation: Taking 5 to 10-minute mindfulness breaks during your days can make a huge differenceExercise: Both cardiovascular exercise and resistance training are effective methods of managing burnoutMaintain strong boundaries: Make a point not to be “on” at all times; unplug from your work during evening and weekendsBuild a supporting social circle: Having colleagues to vent to, or other people in your circle who understand what you are going through, can be therapeuticConsider therapy or counseling: Many therapists specialize in burnout and can help you figure out how to move through this difficult time How to Prevent Burnout A Word From Verywell Sometimes people are quick to brush off feelings of “I can’t do this anymore,” thinking that they should try to toughen up or push themselves through. But burnout is a real thing, and if left unaddressed, it can have consequences for your emotional, physical, and mental health. The truth is, addressing your feelings of burnout isn’t a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. Most of all, you deserve to feel confident, well, and whole. Try not to get discouraged. You can start addressing burnout by making even one small change today. Small changes add up and have a big impact on how you feel. People Are 'Quiet Quitting' And It Could Be Great For Mental Health 8 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Depression: What is burnout? World Health Organization. Burn-out an "occupational phenomenon": International Classification of Diseases. Keel P. Psychische Belastungen durch die Arbeit: Burnout-Syndrom [Psychological stress caused by work: burnout syndrome]. Sozial und Praventivmedizin. 1993;38(2):S131-2. doi: 10.1007/BF01305364 Midwestern University. What is burnout? Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. Depression: What is burnout? Clay R. Are you burned out? Monitor on Psychology. 2018;49(2):30. Maslach C, Leiter MP. Understanding the burnout experience: recent research and its implications for psychiatry. World Psychiatry. 2016;15(2):103-111. doi:10.1002/wps.20311 Wilson S. Avoid the burn. American Psychological Association. 2011;3:17. By Wendy Wisner Wendy Wisner is a health and parenting writer, lactation consultant (IBCLC), and mom to two awesome sons. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? 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