Recovering from an injury can be a daunting task, both physically and emotionally.

It’s normal to experience traumatic stress following a disturbing event, like a traffic collision or severe injury. However, dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic event while trying to get back to your normal routine can feel overwhelming.

As a car wreck victim, returning to work, school, family time, and your life passions can be tiring and frustrating — especially when you’re not making progress as quickly as you’d like. On top of that, your daily life can become more difficult due to the challenges posed by long-term injuries.

If you’re feeling burnt out, you’re not alone. Here’s what you need to know about post-injury burnout and some tips to help you move forward.

What is burnout?

Burnout is the state of exhaustion caused by continued stress. It arises when you feel overwhelmed, drained, and unable to cope with your normal routine tasks, which can be intensified when you’re trying to recover from a severe injury after a car crash or other traumatic incident. 

As stress persists, your interest and motivation in activities that once brought you joy start to diminish. Burnout can decrease your productivity, drain your energy, and leave you feeling helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. The negative effects of burnout can seep into every aspect of your life, impacting your home, work, and social interactions. Additionally, burnout can lead to long-term changes in your body, making you more susceptible to illnesses like colds and flu.

What are the symptoms of burnout?

Recognizing the symptoms is crucial to address and manage burnout effectively. Here are some common signs that you may be experiencing mental fatigue:

  • Experiencing a constant state of exhaustion, both at work and at home.
  • Dealing with daily tasks that frequently leave you drained.
  • Feeling unappreciated and that your efforts don’t make a difference.
  • Struggling with low emotional resilience, increased stress or anxiety, irritability, helplessness, chronic feelings of being overwhelmed, and low motivation.
  • Battling depressionsuicidal thoughts, and feelings of physical fatigue.
  • Having sleep issues, either sleeping too much or too little.
  • Suffering from unexplained aches and pains, such as headaches or muscle pain.
  • Falling ill due to lowered immunity.
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite.
  • Dealing with a sense of failure, self-doubt, and feeling trapped or defeated.
  • Feeling detached and alone. 
  • Facing a loss of motivation, increasing cynicism, and a negative outlook.
  • Having decreased satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment from things that used to bring you joy.
  • Withdrawing from responsibilities and isolating yourself from others. 
  • Procrastinating and taking longer to complete tasks. 
  • Using substances like alcohol as a coping mechanism
  • Taking your frustrations out on others and experiencing relationship conflicts. 
  • Skipping work or arriving late and leaving early.

These symptoms can vary from person to person. If you notice any of these signs, make sure to prioritize self-care, seek help from loved ones, and get professional mental health support.

How can you deal with burnout?

Here are our top 6 tips for dealing with mental exhaustion after an injury:

  1. Practicing mindfulness: Mindfulness boosts emotional awareness and aids in managing mental fatigue. Mindfulness involves being fully present in the moment to not get overwhelmed by external circumstances. Mindfulness can be cultivated through techniques such as yoga or sitting and centering yourself during the day.
  2. Reestablish routine: Getting back to a normal routine as soon as possible can provide comfort and minimize traumatic stress. Even if your work or school routine has been disrupted by your injury, structure your day with regular times for eating, sleeping, spending time with family, and relaxation.
  3. Pace yourself: Pacing involves balancing activities throughout the week and spreading tasks out to reduce fatigue. When experiencing mental fatigue, it’s important to adapt work and daily activities to manageable levels. However, this adaptation process can take time and may require professional mental health support.
  4. Changing working conditions: If your job is causing fatigue, consider making changes such as taking more time off, reducing your workload, or seeking support from colleagues while you recover.
  5. Practicing good self-care: Make sure to always prioritize your physical and mental well being by eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and staying hydrated. 
  6. Contact a mental health professional: Seeking mental health support from a therapist or counselor who can help you better cope with stress and recommend positive lifestyle changes during your recovery. Be aware that delaying treatment for mental health conditions can increase your mental exhaustion.