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Tips for knowing when the blues becomes burnout

PrairieCare mental health experts share tips to recognize, avoid burnout.

Burnout is more than the blues.
Troy Becker / Forum News Service

ROCHESTER — It’s a common New Year’s plan to focus on fitness when the calendar turns over.

It doesn’t hurt to make a commitment to mental fitness as well. Staff and health officials at Minnesota-based PrairieCare have some tips to recharge and build mental fitness.

Self-care is their top tip. That can be anything similar to an Instagram-style evening to yourself with candles and a bath. It can also mean the opposite.

Connecting with other people in meaningful ways can be a form of self care too, said Dr. Joshua Stein, clinical director of the medical office building at PrairieCare.

“It’s not always leaning out, checking out,” he said. “It could be getting back into acting or singing or joining a chorale.”


The key is to identify what helps you mentally recharge and set boundaries to ensure it’s something you can maintain.

Self care, along with a healthy sleep routine, nutrition and exercise are keys to maintaining better mental health, Stein said.

Be patient and kind to others and yourself.

“There’s a lot of expectations from everybody, but we tend to put a lot on ourselves,” Stein said.

Joshua Stein

Pay attention for signs of burnout, Stein said.

It’s not uncommon for people to have less energy and feel blue during the depth of winter. However, knowing when common and natural feelings turn out to be cause for concern about mental health can be tricky.

“When is it not just burnout; when does it transition into something more serious?” Stein said. “It’s really hard to put a finger on it.”

There are a couple key signs that you have more than the blues.


“One of the biggest clues would be if you ever feel like completely giving up and just not facing the day,” Stein said.

The second sign is that things you do as self-care have diminishing returns.

“If you’re finding that they become joyless or a hassle or a burden that might be a time to get some support as well,” he said.

Stein also said it’s important to set boundaries around the things that do bring joy or recharge you — those are your wellness non-negotiables.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. People should reach out to friends and family or set up a mental health screening. Most organizations that offer mental health services, like PrairieCare, offer free screenings.

John Molseed joined the Post Bulletin in 2018. He covers arts, culture, entertainment, nature and other fun stories he's surprised he gets paid to cover. When he's not writing articles about Southeast Minnesota artists and musicians, he's either picking banjo, brewing beer, biking or looking for other hobbies that begin with the letter "b." Readers can reach John at 507-285-7713 or jmolseed@postbulletin.com.
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