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  • Writer's pictureEmory DPT Sustainability

Self-Care Strategies to Prevent Burnout

By Ariel Esperanilla, SPT

Burnout is commonly experienced in school, and the risk of burnout continues into the workplace as professionals. Meeting the increasing demands in healthcare has resulted in work compression, doing the same amount of work in fewer hours [3]. Though we acknowledge the importance of meeting the holistic health needs of patients - physically, mentally, spiritually, we often do not extend the same compassion to ourselves. As such, burnout has reached rampant levels among U.S. healthcare professionals [2].

What is Burnout?

Clinical psychologist, Herbery Freudenberger, first described this term in 1979 as exhaustion resulting from excessive demands on energy, strength, or resources” in the workplace [2]. He noted that burnout often occurs in contexts requiring large amounts of personal involvement and empathy, primarily among “the dedicated and committed.” The consequences of burnout are not limited to the personal well-being of healthcare workers; many studies have demonstrated that provider burnout is detrimental to patient care and satisfaction.

As the saying goes, “You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.” This could not be truer for the physical and emotional demands  required for healthcare providers [1]. Self-care is a deliberate choice to prevent and treat burnout. It provides the opportunity for recovery time and promotion of whole health - mind, body, spirit. Prioritizing your personal health is imperative so that you have the energy and strength to care for patients. Therefore, it is critical to identify several self-care strategies and incorporate those into your daily routine.

Self-care tools and strategies

Self-care is multidimensional requiring tools that are both inclusive of and promote self-awareness in our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.  Therefore, to truly practice self-care, you must pay attention to all aspects of the self - the mind, body, and soul. The self-care wheel is one tool that can be used to increase self-awareness and remind ourself of the six areas requiring our attention and care. 

The self-care wheel, created by trauma prevention expert, Olga Phoenix, is a tool used to balance and nourish six dimensions of our lives and wellness. It helps you identify where your level of self-care is at based on different categories of psychological, spiritual, emotional, professional, physical, and personal wellbeing.

Use the assessment here to get an understanding of where you are at with your own self-care by allowing you to rate yourself on how you think you're doing in different areas. Instead of establishing a specific score, simply pay attention to places where you rate yourself higher or lower. Notice what you already do a good job of and areas where you can grow in your self-care. Read through the Self-Care Wheel handout here to get ideas on how you can practice self-care and build resilience in each dimension of your life to rebalance yourself especially after emotionally draining or stressful weeks.

  • Spanish, French, Portuguese translations created by Olga Phoenix: here

  • Blank version: here

Adapted from Transforming the Pain: A Workbook on Vicarious Traumatization. Saakvitne, Pearlman & Staff of TSI/CAAP (Norton, 1996)


  1. Basic Strategies for Self-Care. UTA Online. Published September 8, 2017.

  2. Reith TP. Burnout in United States Healthcare Professionals: A Narrative Review. Cureus. April 2018. doi:10.7759/cureus.3681.

  3. Thieman L. SelfCare for HealthCare: The Best Way to Care for Patients Is to Care for Ourselves. Nurse Leader. 2018;16(6):393-397. doi:10.1016/j.mnl.2018.07.014.

Multimedia Sources

  • "You gotta nourish to flourish" [Digital image]. Retrieved from

  • "There is nothing in nature that blooms all year long, so don't expect yourself to do so either" [Digital image]. Retrieved from

  • "Self-care isn't selfish" [Digital image]. Retrieved from

  • Mind, Body, Soul Balance [Digital image]. Retrieved from

  • Self-care wheel handout [Digital image]. Retrieved from

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