Beat Down Burnout

Let Go of the Physical Manifestations of Burnout

Do you ever get a feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach the night before going to work? You know, after you’ve been off for a couple of days. That feeling that your insides are all knotted up, worrying about what the work week is going to bring? Sometimes, your muscles get all knotted up and you might get a tension headache, yes? You, or someone you know, might even get sick to their stomach. It’s not that unusual. These are some of the physical manifestations of stress that we see in burnout, depression, and suicidal ideation.


I used to think this only happened in extreme cases. Many years ago, I worked with a doc a couple of years younger than myself. He would get nausea and vomiting every time he was on call. Granted, our call nights were high acuity, but I thought that was overboard. However, a few years later, those call nights were one of the reasons I left that clinic. I wasn’t getting sick to my stomach, but I was getting to where I couldn’t sleep the night before call. Of course, I didn’t sleep the night I was on call, either.


I have a lot of physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and other healthcare workers as connections on my social media. Any given week, I can open Twitter and find someone talking about their physical manifestations of stress. The most common story is this: “It’s Friday night and I can’t enjoy my weekend off. I used to get sick on Sunday evening. Then, it would start on Sunday afternoon. Eventually, it took over my whole weekend, so that I couldn’t plan any activities with my children or spouse. Now, here I am on my knees in front of the toilet at 7 pm on Friday. I have to clean myself up, so that I can cancel the children’s playdate for tomorrow. How will I tell them?”


The best treatment for this level of stress and/or burnout isn’t mindfulness. It’s rest. Unfortunately, when we’re this stressed, we are unable to rest. We are in constant fight-or-flight and can’t turn that off long enough to get effective rest. Why are we in constant fight-or-flight? Because our workplace is an unsafe environment. We cannot trust the people and the organizations who are supposed to be providing us with a safe workspace. It’s really that simple.



We need to take back healthcare. As physicians, we know this. We’ve known this for a long time. Nurses know this. With the pandemic it’s become apparent to all healthcare workers and most patients that the future of healthcare doesn’t belong in the hands of businessmen. The question has been how: How do we do this? I have a system and a solution for this. One that values collaboration and teamwork. One that values you as an individual. This system will teach you how to negotiate for better boundaries. It doesn’t matter what your role is in healthcare. Are you ready to give up the headaches? Are you ready to give up the nausea and vomiting? Are you ready to give up the sleepless nights? Are you ready to reclaim your family time? Would you like more information?


Reach out to me. I’m Dr. Nan Nuessle and I’m here to help.

Nanette Nuessle