How to Recover From Burnout (According to 25+ Experts)

Are you feeling run down, overwhelmed, and exhausted? Do you feel like you can’t keep up with your work or to-do list? If so, you may be suffering from burnout.

Burnout can be caused by stress at work, home, or school and can lead to physical and emotional health problems if left untreated. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to heal from it.

According to experts, here are ways to recover from burnout and get your life back on track:

Elizabeth Chiang, M.D. Ph.D.

Elizabeth Chiang

Physician and Life Coach, Grow Your Wealthy Mindset

Burnout has been on the rise and has only been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. Burnout comprises feelings of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a decreased sense of personal accomplishment—burnout impacts both mental and physical well-being.

You may be burned out if you find yourself: 

  • Overindulging in food or alcohol to feel better.
  • Spending hours scrolling social media or binging on Netflix to escape.
  • Or if taking a day off or vacation no longer brings you renewal. 

Physical symptoms of burnout can include headaches, muscle tension, or digestive discomfort. Those who experience burnout often develop self-doubt or low self-esteem. They may also feel loneliness and detachment. 

People with burnout often have a lack of motivation, especially toward work. It’s not surprising that less motivation for work leads to lower productivity at work.

Discover the source of your burnout and what needs to change

Recognizing burnout is the first step toward recovery. Once you have recognized that you are experiencing burnout, the next step involves self-exploration and experimenting to discover the source of your burnout and what needs to change for recovery.

Our thoughts create our reality. We accomplish what we think we can accomplish. We create what we think we can create. Our thoughts also create our feelings. 

When we spend our time thinking, “my job sucks,” “my workplace doesn’t value me,” or “I’m unappreciated,” we’re not going to feel great. We may feel frustrated, exhausted, or depressed depending on the situation.

What are the recurring thoughts you have every day? Spend the time to examine the sentences that run through our minds. Journaling is also a great way to examine our thoughts.

Once you’ve written down your thoughts, look at each thought objectively

  • Is it actually true? 
  • Could someone else have a different thought about the same circumstance? 
  • Is the thought helpful or harmful? 
  • Does it move you forward or bring you down?

The great thing is that we can change our thoughts. We can step back, be the watcher of our thoughts, and decide which thoughts we want to continue to think and which don’t serve us. We can create new thoughts. Over time, we can shift our mindset.

Shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset

The goal is to shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. 

  • A fixed mindset says, “I can’t do that,” A growth mindset says, “I can’t do that yet, but I can learn.” 
  • A fixed mindset says, “My project failed. I give up.” A growth mindset says, “I learned what didn’t work, so now I’ll try something else.” 
  • A fixed mindset says, “I’m already good at that skill,” A growth mindset says, “I can always improve my skill.

Experiment with making changes in your thoughts and actions to see how you can improve your work-life balance. Identify what is in your control to change, and don’t focus on what’s out of your control. 

Words matter. The language you use matters. When we say, “I have to,” there is a different feeling generated than when we say, “I get to.” “I get to go to work to earn money so I can feed my family” is more motivating than “I have to go to work to earn money so I can feed my family.” 

Examine the language you use, both in what you say and what you think.

It can also help build a support network, whether family, friends, or co-workers. 

Don’t be afraid to lean on others for support. Find a community where you can discuss your struggles with burnout in a safe environment. You’ll be surprised how cathartic it can be to know you’re not alone.

Remember to take care of your body 

This includes the very basics:

  • Staying hydrated and fueling your body with nutritious food. 
  • Make sure you are getting sufficient sleep every night. 
  • Schedule regular physical activity, whether going for a walk or taking a yoga class. 
  • Be present when you spend time with your family. 
  • Remember to have some fun in your life. 

Learn how to set boundaries

A physical boundary is like a fence around your house. It delineates your property. An emotional boundary is a barrier you put in place to protect your personal well-being. 

You can’t control the actions of others, but you can control your own actions. When someone starts to cross your boundary, request that they stop doing whatever activity is infringing on your boundary and let them know what you will do to protect yourself if they do not comply with your request. 

For example, if someone at work raises their voice and yells at you, you can say, “Please lower your voice,” or “I’m going to leave until you can speak calmly.” 

If they do not lower their voice, then leave.

Remember, you always have a choice. Going to work each day is a choice. You could choose to stay home and skip work. Yes, there are consequences for your choices, but you always have a choice.

Sometimes the answer lies in who — not how

Consider seeking help from a therapist or a coach. Professional coaching has been a great intervention for physicians to recover from burnout. 

Coaching is evidence-based, with evidence from multiple randomized control trials, including one that showed as few as six coaching sessions resulted in a measurable reduction in burnout. Coaching is likely to be effective for burnout for other professions other than the medical field.

Dr. Stephanie Straeter

Stephanie Straeter

Licensed Clinical Psychologist | Wellness Coach and Clinical Reviewer, Uprise Health

Be aware that your current lifestyle is no longer working for you

The first step in recovering from burnout is the awareness that your current lifestyle is no longer working for you. Chronic stress is the response to emotional pressure suffered for a prolonged period in which an individual perceives they have little or no control.

Prescriptive solutions such as sleeping pills, pain pills, and anti-anxiety drugs such as Xanax or Valium do not get to the heart of the problem. They can lead to drowsiness, weight gain, agitation, low libido, lethargy, and—in rare cases, death.

These pharmacological approaches eliminate the symptom but not the cause.

They serve a purpose by reducing or eliminating annoying symptoms like pain, sleeplessness, nervousness, and anxiety. However, these prescriptive solutions allow you to keep going even though your body is screaming for you to stop and make changes. 

The pharmacological approach is like pulling out a weed and not getting the roots out. The weed is going to continue to come back.

The problem is that doctors often write non-psychotropic prescriptions for a limited amount of time, hoping that the prescription will get through a rough patch and that when it runs out, you will not need it anymore. 

Additionally, your body is taking a beating as you continue to cover up the stress symptoms. Until you start addressing the root of the problem, we are stuck in a difficult situation.

The good news is that you can end the vicious cycle by learning how to manage stress. The information I am sharing with you today is about working through the rough patch, finding all-natural ways to get through it, such as: 

  • Diaphragmatic breathing
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Body scans
  • Stretching
  • Exercise
  • Meditation

Managing stress is not as hard as you think. In fact, you can lower your stress right now, and you will not need a pill or your wallet to do it.

Everyone who is interested, please rank how stressed you feel on a scale from 1 – 10 (with 10 being the highest). Identify what is going on in your mind that is contributing to your current level of stress and where you feel it in your body. 

Next, you are going to repeat the following deep breathing exercise three times: 

  1. Inhale through your nose for a count of 4.
  2. Hold that breath in for a count of 4. 
  3. And then exhale to a count of 6.

While you are doing the breathing exercise, put your stressors in a bubble or cloud and shift your focus to executing the breathing exercise. 

Related: What Is the Purpose of Breathing Exercises?

Now re-rate your stress number on a scale from 1 -10. Hopefully, it is lower, and congratulations if it is; you just self-regulated your autonomic nervous system.

A good work-life balance, a healthy lifestyle, and having a healthy connection to at least one person are the foundation for mental health and will help you better manage stress. 

You want to sample different stress management techniques, find a couple, and work up to practicing them for at least 10 minutes a day.

Take time daily to rank your stress level on a scale from 0 – 10 (with 10 being the highest), and never let it get above a five without using one of your stress management techniques to bring it down to below a five or a 0 if you have the time. 

Additionally, you want to anticipate stressful situations, rank your stress prior, and bring that stress number down to a 0 before embarking on the situation.

If you are currently struggling with implementing healthier behaviors, then wellness coaching will help you get started or get back on track. 

Many insurance plans offer these services to you at no cost. However, if you are currently struggling with the motivation to make any lifestyle changes and are over-utilizing any of the following counter-productive coping techniques: 

  • Overspending
  • Overeating
  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Smoking

Then you would benefit from psychological support. 

If you have medical insurance, you have mental health coverage, so call your benefit department today to determine your coverage and who to call to get names of in-network therapists/psychiatrists.

Kelley Bonner, LCSW

Kelley Bonner

Burnout Expert and Founder, Burn Bright Consulting | Expert Company Culture Strategist

Recovering from burnout can feel daunting, but it is achievable. I encourage people to focus on three things.

Establish a mindfulness practice

The first is to establish a mindfulness practice. Often, people think of mindfulness as this exhaustive meditation or yoga practice, and while those are helpful, many people who experience burnout are already overwhelmed.

Short but effective practices that reset the nervous system and bring the body to calm are helpful when dealing with burnout. 

Related: Mindfulness: Will It Make Me Happy?

Try this:

  1. Put your hands behind your head while either lying down or sitting up.
  2. While keeping your head straight, turn your eyes to a three o’clock position.
  3. Keep your eyes there until you yawn, sigh, or swallow. 

People typically experience one of these three responses within 20-30 seconds. This practice resets your vagus nerve and puts your body at rest. It brings your body into the present moment.  

Focus on changing how you think about your relationship with work

The second thing I encourage people to focus on is changing how they think about their relationship with work. 

So much of our lives are spent at work. As a result, we live to work instead of working to live. Recovering from burnout can only happen when we understand the nature of work, which is that there will always be more. 

However, while work is never ending, we have limits. We, as humans, only have so much time and a limited emotional, physical, and mental capacity. Being clear on this helps us to set boundaries around ourselves. 

When there are limited amounts of something, we treat it as precious. Ask yourself: 

  • “What boundaries do I set around my time at work?”
  • “Do I make it a point to stop work at a certain time?”
  • “Do I prioritize rest and time off?”

Work will always be there, but you will not. Value yourself.

Establish a regular self-care routine

Last but not least, I encourage the establishment of a regular self-care routine. Self-care is meant to be activities that promote connection and grounding that can be done in 15 minutes or less throughout the day and cost nothing. 

The goal is to embed them in your day so that you build small moments that add to a life of wellness. These small moments go a long way to preventing burnout. They can be as small as: 

  • Taking that sip of water
  • Stretching between meetings 
  • Laughing with a coworker or at a video on social media
  • Taking a walk in nature
  • Wearing clothes you like
  • Getting a hug from a person you love  

The goal of self-care is to keep it small but regular. Self-care should be a non-negotiable part of your life.  

Build these three suggestions into your life and watch burnout become a thing of the past.

Kelsea Warren

Kelsea Warren

Founder, The Seamless Coach LLC | Workplace Wellbeing Coach | Former Therapist and Social Worker

It’s not always about doing less

“Just take a vacation; you need some rest…” we hear it every day from our managers, friends, and family. But does taking extended time off or a nap on the weekend really help you recover from burnout?

The answer is yes and no. While time off, vacations, and self-care are all essential aspects of well-being at work, they are not the cure for burnout. 

These tactics address the symptoms of burnout, which we know include initial exhaustion, leading to cynicism and resentment, and finally resulting in reduced professional efficacy (aka dropping balls and losing confidence in your abilities). 

The issue here is that many people rely on traditional self-care or time off as the only source of recovery, which doesn’t address the root cause of burnout and perpetuates the cycle of disengagement. 

Wait, burnout isn’t my fault?

Burnout recovery is complex. We must be aware that burnout is, first, an organizational issue

When we have increased job demands such as unrealistic workload, poor training, lack of support from leadership, and value misalignment, this creates prolonged stress and mental load on the individual. 

To help recover and prevent burnout, employees are left with the responsibility to increase their resources to help tip the scale in favor of support. 

Organizations can add to these resources by creating realistic timelines, autonomy, coaching, etc. Many workplaces and managers are not equipped to address an increase in resources, or doing so takes time. 

So although the root cause is often something with the role or work environment, employees have the most control over their personal lives and work habits—this is where recovery can begin. 

Start with identifying the root cause of burnout for you

So how can I help myself?

Start with identifying the root cause of burnout for you. This will look different for each person based on the demands and resources you have available in your role and work environment. 

Additionally, each employee comes with a set of workplace values that may or may not align with the values of the organization. 

To identify where there is misalignment, evaluate and reflect from three angles:

  1. You 
  2. Your role
  3. Your work environment

Make a chart and write out what is going well in each area and what could use improvement. This approach helps employees pinpoint where they are experiencing the most friction and stress, which is how to get to the root cause. 

This also helps identify where the employee’s values may not be aligned with the company’s values. It is known that value alignment contributes to well-being and is considered one of these “resources.” 

Based on these reflections, the actions you can take will vary based on the root cause. This can include: 

  • Adjusting your personal habits or routines
  • Setting better boundaries at work
  • Creating conditions for flow
  • Developing a system for time and task management
  • Having conversations to support relationships at work 
  • Even addressing your physical workspace

These, in addition to self-care and rest, can help address the root cause of burnout. 

Ultimately, if the root cause is something within your control, and you do all you can to improve it, and it still doesn’t work, this could indicate that a larger change in your role or work environment is needed. 

For example, you may find that there isn’t a system set up to track progress toward outcomes in your role. You may also find that because of this, your manager is constantly asking for updates and micromanaging you, which creates stress. 

You may decide to advocate for a better system to communicate as part of this recovery process. But after taking a look at this holistically, you realize this is consistent across the company, and this is a value misalignment, as you value efficiency, communication, and autonomy. 

Ginelle Krummey, MA, LCMHC, NCC 

Ginelle Krummey

Clinical Mental Heath Counselor and Founder, Growth Point Collaborative Counseling and Group Facilitation, PLLC

Make burnout prevention a lifestyle

Basically, burnout is a mismatch between the demand in a given situation and the resources available to meet it. As resources diminish or demand increases, instances of burnout increase without adequate balancing restoration. 

Burnout syndromes fall upon a continuum from severe to mild and then move on through recovery and maintenance to prevention. 

Some burnout syndromes include vicarious traumatization, secondary traumatic stress, and compassion fatigue. No career or profession does not have the potential to contribute to burnout in employees. 

With all these ways people are vulnerable to burnout in the helping professions and our personal lives, it’s no wonder we forget that alternative outcomes are possible, such as compassion satisfaction and post-traumatic growth.

The answer to this will differ from person to person and from one burnout episode to the next

So how to recover from burnout? The answer to this will differ from person to person and from one burnout episode to the next. Just assume you’re prone to it; as the cost of living soars and the fatigue from recent events keeps building, just assume that burnout is always available. 

For an ever-present threat, we need ongoing responsiveness. As in, How’s my burnout today? or How rested do I feel? and being our own best caregivers by making a tweak or shift based on our felt sense of wellness or distress. 

We can build familiarity with this burnout-level felt sense with repetitions over time. Using numbers on a scale can help. 

Micro informs the macro

Over time, a person can use the expectation of burnout to make bigger, systemic decisions about how they run their life. 

For one, a person can determine what kind of job they are suited for, or if they have the privilege to do so, they can shape their schedule to their greater comfort. 

A person could move to a town they like or move closer or farther from family. The whole picture of a person’s life contributes to their burnout level, not just what’s happening in the workplace.

The microcosmic way people tend to make burnout recovery is often referred to as “self-care.” For some, it works. And again, it has many different shapes.

Self-care is everything from your weekly manicure to therapy, brushing your teeth, and keeping your finances right. It’s a practice. 

Another way to practice burnout prevention is with “community care.” This crucial layer of self-care brings the power of human connection, the sense of belonging, and many other benefits to the weary.

The most concise answer I can offer about how to recover from burnout is to make its prevention a lifestyle. Never look away from it, and keep taking the necessary restoration measures. And have fun with your recovery! Keep pleasure central.

Lauren Spinella, LPC

Lauren Spinella

Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional (CCATP) | Owner and Therapist, Peaceful Path Counseling

Notice changes in your overall mood

Burnout is a sign that something isn’t working. The first step to recovering from it is to notice it. If you are experiencing stress and overwhelm consistently and to the point that you see changes in your overall mood and daily functioning, something’s up. Notice it so that you can respond to it. 

Change what’s changeable 

The next step is to look at what is potentially changeable in your current situation: 

  • Can you talk to your boss about managing your workload? 
  • Is there the possibility of delegating some of your assignments? 
  • Can you enlist support at home? 
  • Can you make adjustments to your schedule? 

Cope with what’s not changeable 

Once you’ve changed what can be changed, look at how to cope with what cannot be changed. If you have to encounter stress, how can you take care of yourself to lessen the blow of it on your life? 

One way to do this is to shift your perspective on the challenges you’re experiencing. 

If work is a contributor, for example, check back on why you’re doing this job, to begin with. What do you get out of it? Even if the job is just a paycheck, that’s still a reason and an important one. 

Consider what about the job is or could be meaningful to you, and lean into that more. Maybe you’re tasked with what feels like menial and unimportant assignments, and you have downtime that feels pointless and daunting.

Take advantage of that time by using it to read up on topics that interest you or build your skills. 

Maybe you’re someone who values connection to others. Recognize the impact that your presence has on your coworkers or the difference you’re making in your clients’ lives. 

Do what you can to take care of yourself

Lastly, do what you can to take of yourself, starting with how you approach yourself. The last thing you need when struggling is to be hard on yourself or critical of your feelings or actions. 

Acknowledge your struggle and validate it for yourself. If your body is telling you to rest, rest. If you’re too emotionally spent to call your needy friend back after work, shoot them a text that says you’ll call them tomorrow. 

Give yourself permission to scale back and protect your energy reserves. And focus on things that replenish you: resting more or engaging in things that bring you joyexcitement, and purpose to even out the scales. 

Related: How to Find Meaning and Purpose in Your Life

Becca Smith, LPC

Becca Smith

Chief Clinical Officer, Basepoint Academy

Burnout is your body’s way of telling you that your current lifestyle is unsustainable and can manifest in physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. 

Related: 90+ Signs You’re Mentally and Emotionally Exhausted 

For instance, someone who has been working long hours at their job and neglecting self-care may start experiencing symptoms like difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, and constant fatigue.

This can affect not only their performance at work but also their relationships and overall well-being.

Start with self-care and setting boundaries

Mental health experts like myself recommend starting with self-care and setting boundaries. This entails saying no when necessary and prioritizing rest. 

If you’re sick or feeling overwhelmed, take a day off or ask for help. If you feel there’s too much workload, have a conversation with your boss about delegating tasks or adjusting your schedule. 

Related: How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed at Work

You can’t do everything, but you can manage your time and energy effectively. If you’re healthy and balanced, you can better handle the demands and responsibilities of life.

Examine the root cause of burnout

Are you taking on too much at once? Is it a toxic work environment? It’s essential to address any underlying issues contributing to burnout, such as chronic stress, negative thought patterns, or unhealthy coping mechanisms. 

Once you determine the source, you can start making changes and finding healthier ways to cope. 

For example, you can have a conversation with your boss or look for a new job—this will make a significant difference in your recovery. A change of pace and environment can also be helpful—go on a vacation or switch up your daily routine.

If you need extra support, don’t hesitate to seek help

If you need extra support, seeking therapy or counseling can be valuable in your recovery journey. Since burnout can be associated with other psychological issues, such as depression and anxiety, don’t hesitate to seek help. 

A therapist can provide guidance, coping strategies, and a safe space to process your thoughts and emotions. Particularly, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be effective in identifying and changing faulty thought patterns. 

Several research studies also suggest that increased mindfulness plays a role in burnout prevention by increasing self-awareness and promoting a healthy, balanced lifestyle. 

Hence, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), a combination of CBT and mindfulness techniques, may also help manage burnout.

Halle M. Thomas, CGACII

Halle Thomas

Marriage and Family Therapist Associate, Chicory Counseling

Give your body what it needs

People tend to neglect their basic needs when they’re in the middle of burnout. For some people, this may take the form of skipping meals during the day; for others, it might look like pushing past fatigue to complete specific tasks. 

Take a moment to notice any physical sensations that are present in your body. You might discover that you’re hungry, thirsty, or tired. Focusing on nourishing your body and getting rest throughout the day can be a great way to begin recovering from burnout. 

If you typically enjoy high-energy workouts, you might consider choosing low-impact forms of activity while your body recovers. Restorative yoga and walking are two great options that allow you to move your body without overtaxing yourself. 

Reconnect to activities that bring you joy

Think back to a time when you did something just for the fun of it. Those memories contain examples of activities you can engage in as part of your burnout recovery process. 

Whether it’s watching your favorite movie or sharing a new experience with someone you love, having fun can provide a nice break from the fatigue induced by burnout. 

As you reconnect to activities that bring you joy, take the time to schedule these activities into your regular routine. Engaging in fun activities more consistently can provide a buffer against the stressors of everyday life. 

Set boundaries around your time

Burnout and overworking tend to go hand-in-hand. When you’re recovering from burnout, stop engaging in work-related tasks after a specific time of the day. 

If needed, practice informing other people that you will not be available at certain times and let them know when they can expect to hear from you next. 

Be prepared for the fact that people who are used to having unlimited access to your time may take some time to adjust to this boundary being set. 

As you gain more practice with protecting your time, you’ll likely find that you’re able to respond to other people from a place of calm rather than from a place of overwhelm. 

Dr. Suzanna Wong, DC

Suzanna Wong

Chiropractor and Co-Founder, Twin Waves Wellness Center

Take some pressure off of yourself

What causes burnout?

Burnout is a type of physical or mental exhaustion, usually caused by chronic stress (most commonly workplace stress or exercise stress). It can happen when you have experienced long-term stress or when you have worked in emotionally or physically draining conditions for a long time. 

Burnout can sometimes be confused with compassion fatigue—which can display similar symptoms but normally occurs much sooner than burnout does. 

Compassion fatigue is characterized by emotional or physical exhaustion, which leads to a lack of empathy for others, whereas burnout often leads to feeling tired or drained most of the time, feeling overwhelmed by everything, feeling trapped, detached, and hopeless, and having a cynical outlook on things. 

Related: How to Stop Being Cynical

How can you spot burnout?

People that are on their way to burnout might be experiencing unusual overwhelm, some depression or negativity, taking longer to get things done, and feeling tired and drained all of the time. 

The key is to look for things that are out of character for them. If you notice someone has any of these and it is unusual for them to be like that, it’s an indication that they may be on their way to burnout. 

How to recover from burnout?

If you don’t treat burnout, you could end up with long-term depression, negativity, and work productivity issues. 

If it is dealt with and changes are made to your work environment or how much you train, you should start to see an improvement in how you see things and how you cope. 

Start by taking some pressure off of yourself. Reallocate work/training and reduce the number of hours that you are working. If you can take time off of work/training for a week or two and do something relaxing or that makes you happy. 

Spend time with people that make you laugh. It sounds simple, but taking time out and laughing can make a big difference in how you feel. 

When you start back at work/training, build things up gradually, whether that is the amount of work you are doing or the number of hours you are doing. 

That might take time—dealing with burnout isn’t an overnight thing, but steady consistency will make a difference. And importantly, if someone tells you they are worried about you, listen to them. 

People outside our day-to-day lives often spot things faster than we do—people suffering from burnout often don’t realize they are. 

Emme Smith, LPC

Emme Smith

CEO, GraySpace Counseling Group

Stop. Regroup. Pivot.

I had a friend reach out to me yesterday asking about recognizing and coping with burnout. Burnout is real and is even more prevalent in today’s society. I find it interesting how many of my clients are unaware that they are experiencing symptoms of burnout. 

Merriam-Webster defines burnout as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.” Symptoms of burnout include but are not limited to stress, fatigue, irritability, and insomnia.

So how do you recover? I responded to my friend with three words: Stop. Regroup. Pivot.

Stop

The first step in recovery is acknowledgment. You have to recognize that you are in a state of burnout. You can do this by slowing down and listening to your body. 

  • What has changed? 
  • Are you having trouble sleeping? 
  • Do you wake up tired? 
  • Have you been snappy to those closest to you? 

Whenever you are not your usual self, that is your body telling you that something is wrong.

Regroup

Once you’ve acknowledged that burnout is the culprit, it’s time to regroup and recharge. What are some ways that you recharge? 

Here are a few of my suggestions:

  • Unplug. The DND (do not disturb) and airplane options on your phone work wonders!
  • Relax…and I do mean relax! This is not the time to catch up on cleaning or laundry. I’m convinced that relaxing must include vegging out on the couch and binge-watching the latest series. I’m just saying.
  • Clear your mind. Quiet and calm allow your mind to relax, leading to clarity and better decision-making. Mindfulness is also an amazing practice to introduce to your daily routine.

Pivot

Now that we’ve recognized the behaviors that are not serving and recharged, it’s time to pivot. Practice new strategies and create boundaries where they are lacking. 

If work contributed to your burnout, consider having a “clock out” time daily. An example would be closing your laptop by 7 pm every night. If it is home that’s causing the stress, consider having a day where you don’t cook or clean. 

Take-out or grab-and-go may be the option for a particular day during the week. These are only suggestions, but to prevent burnout, you have to change what you were/are doing. Do something different to get something different.

Gabrielle Juliano-Villani, MSW, LCSW

Gabrielle Juliano-Villani

Coach and Educator | Owner, GJV Consulting & Training

Prioritize rest and know that it may take longer to complete tasks or feel better than before

The best way to recover from burnout is to prevent it from happening, but usually, people realize this too late. 

It’s also important to know the difference between stress and burnout—stress is too much, and burnout is past the point of stress where you are now apatheticnumb, and disconnected

It can be a dark place to be, similar to a depressive episode, and it’s much harder to crawl out of that hole once you get there—but it is possible. 

When you’re burnt out, rest and recovery are important but taking a long vacation won’t solve the problem. Prioritize rest and know that it may take longer to complete tasks or feel better than it did before. 

It can be hard to motivate yourself when you are in that space. Take it slow. Notice what’s happening in your body and your stress responses. 

What are the moments where you feel angry/overwhelmed/upset? Take that information so you can begin to understand the underlying triggers and set boundaries around them. What’s happening in the moments when you feel peaceful and calm—add more of those in! 

Tips to start recovering:

  • Give yourself a good morning routine, even if it’s five minutes, to begin your day with calmness and set the intention for your day. Mine includes having my coffee outside without my phone and listening to the sounds of nature.
  • Set boundaries! Say no. Prioritize rest and begin to reframe in your mind that rest is also productive.
  • Work on understanding your own values. A significant contributing factor to burnout is not living in alignment and being in a work environment with very different values than ours.
  • Go to therapy for support and to learn about your nervous system. Our nervous system is responsible for most of our emotional regulation. Once you understand more about this, you allow for psychological flexibility, know when you are being triggered, and how to reset yourself to a calmer and more connected state.
  • Even for a few minutes a day, get up and move your body. 
  • Get good sleep. Have a nighttime routine, make sure your bedroom is as comfortable and inviting as it can be, and don’t use your bed for anything but sleep and sex.
  • Values know what they are, so you are living authentically. 
  • Practice mindfulness. This doesn’t need to be meditation! Mindfulness is the act of being in the present moment with no judgment. You can do this in many different ways—listen to music, go for a walk, paint, dance, or journal.

Faisal Tai, MD

Faisal Tai,

Psychiatrist, PsychPlus

Identify a less stressful vocation and environment

The condition commonly referred to by the layman’s term “burnout” is a form of mental, emotional, and frequent physical exhaustion. It is usually caused by long-term stress and anxiety. 

Real recovery from burnout can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on what experiences someone has endured, how effective their treatment plan is, and the resiliency of their emotional makeup.

Burnout has been a common experience for millions around the world recently, given the COVID pandemic, economic upheaval, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and ongoing aftershocks. 

If you suspect you have burnout, it’s crucial to see a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis. Your cortisol levels, “the stress hormone,” might be checked as part of this exam.

To truly recover from burnout, people need to identify a less stressful vocation and environment. They also need to consider relaxing activities such as yoga, stretching, and deep breathing.

Other specific steps they can take to recover from burnout include:

  • Seeking treatment from a doctor.
  • Monitoring your stress levels and understanding your stressors.
  • Making sure you get a healthy amount of exercise, including walking every day if possible.
  • Develop a network of people who care for you and can offer support and encouragement.

Emily Sharp, LCAT, ATR-BC, BC-TMH

Emily Sharp

Licensed Art Therapist, NY Art Therapy

Set aside time for art-making

If you are suffering from feeling burnt out, first off, know that you are not alone. While hustle culture is relentless and the to-do list never ends, you can find a retreat and healing in creative practices. 

One way burnout affects us emotionally is a feeling of loss of motivation and emotional depletion, leading to cynicism. Part of that comes from an overwhelming feeling like there is never enough time in the day or not enough time for yourself. 

Instead of fighting this and trying to be more productive, recognize the trap of this impossible situation and your need for a pause. 

Creative practices, such as art making, singing, creative writing, dance, knitting, etc., are powerful because they are one way to complete the stress cycle (there’s a great book on this called “Burnout” by Drs. Amelia and Emily Nagoski). 

Burnout happens when we get stuck in the cycle and don’t move all the way through the stressful experience to calm down again. Creativity can take your body from a place of stress to a place of calm. 

As an Art Therapist, I want to make the idea of pausing to make art as accessible as possible for you. When you are faced with overwhelming and stressful situations that lead to overwhelming and stressful feelings, less is more with your creative practice. 

Pick one material instead of giving yourself too many options. For people suffering from burnout, I love offering collage materials. Cutting up magazines and using those images to construct a new image is in itself a soothing practice. 

There’s also no added pressure to come up with what you want to draw or paint (you already have too much on your mind!). 

After making your collage, ask yourself what story does this image tell? Do you want to give your image a title? Perhaps this provides some insight into how you feel—this can feel validating. 

When recovering from burnout, setting aside time for art-making is more than just creative expression—you are taking your nervous system from a state of threat and stress to a state of safety and calm.

Dr. Flora Sadri-Azarbayejani

Flora Sadri-Azarbayejani

Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Psyclarity Health

Burnout is a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion that can be caused by prolonged or excessive stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, unable to meet demands, and constantly stressed. 

Burnout can lead to physical and mental health problems, so it’s essential to recognize the signs and symptoms of burnout and take steps to prevent it.

If you’re experiencing burnout, there are some things you can do to recover:

Give yourself time to relax and recharge

One of the best things you can do for yourself when you’re feeling burnt out is to take a break. This can be anything from a few days off work to taking a vacation. It’s important to give yourself time to relax and recharge. 

Use this time to do things you enjoy, such as spending time with family and friends, exploring nature, or getting better at a hobby. When you return to work, you’ll have a better headspace and be more productive.

Talk to someone

When you’re feeling burnt out, it’s important to talk to someone about how you’re feeling. This can be a friend, family member, therapist, or even your doctor. 

Talking about your experiences and feelings can help you process them and make them more manageable. It can also help you find solutions to the problems that are causing your burnout.

Make lifestyle changes

If you’re constantly feeling stressed and overwhelmed, making some lifestyle changes is essential. This can include eating a healthy diet, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep. 

Making these changes can help reduce your stress levels and give you more energy to deal with the demands of your life.

Have clear boundaries 

If you’re constantly putting in extra hours at work or taking on additional responsibilities, it’s important to set boundaries. Having clear boundaries will help you avoid burnout by ensuring that you’re not overworking yourself. 

If possible, delegate tasks to others and make time for yourself outside work.

Simplify your life

One of the leading causes of burnout is having too much on your plate. If you’re trying to do too many things, it’s time to simplify your lifePrioritize your tasks and cut out anything that isn’t absolutely necessary. This will help you focus on what’s important and eliminate unnecessary stressors.

Get organized; create a schedule or to-do list

One of the best ways to reduce stress is to get organized. Create a schedule or to-do list to help you keep track of your tasks and commitments. This will help you stay on top of things and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Dr. Erik Won

Erik Won

President and Chief Medical Officer, Wave Neuroscience

Improve the quality of your sleep

Focus on improving the quality of your sleep by improving daily behaviors and habits like: 

  • Going to bed and waking up at a consistent time every night
  • Avoiding caffeine and stimulants after lunchtime, late-night snacks, or meals
  • Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, as it can destroy sleep architecture

People are often surprised at what a regular sleep cadence can do for overall health and wellness.

Have genuine and authentic connections with friends and family

This one is a little more difficult to measure, but the genuine and authentic connection to friends and family has profound implications for our health. It has been demonstrated to help with any feelings of burnout, anxiety, or depression. 

In fact, there’s an emerging area of science dedicated to this called “social determinants”—who you surround yourself with has a profound impact on long-term health end outcomes. 

Access “braincare” self-monitoring and brainwave synchronization tool

The Electroencephalogram (EEG) is a magnificent tool; the American Neuropsychiatric Association endorsed EEG as an adjunct for diagnosing depression. 

Though it is often underutilized, the EEG should be part of everyone’s annual physical and health assessment as it can provide a wealth of actionable data to guide health and wellness activities. 

At our company, we’re working to make this a very simple scan (10-15 minutes) more approachable with easy-to-understand reports and immediate takeaways to build personalized brain care plans. 

From there, care models like our Magnetic e-Resonance Therapy (MeRT) technology can be used to synchronize brainwaves, optimizing health and performance. 

This brainwave synchronization has been linked to improvements in overall mood, engagement in personal relationships, longer periods of focus, and even heart rate variability (tied to stress resiliency). 

Mike Hoaglin, MD

Mike Hoaglin

Medical Director, DrHouse

Build yourself a strong support network and let them know what’s going on

Building yourself a strong support network can help you recover from burnout and extreme exhaustion. When you have people and other resources around you to help lift you and provide an outlet, you have a really good chance of getting through a difficult time.

These supports can be your friends, family, counselors, or even tools like meditation apps or even an area you can go to relax. 

A support network is something you have to build, which means letting those in your life know what’s going on. Your friends and family can’t help to be a support if they don’t know how to do so as they don’t know what is happening. 

Letting them know how they can be supportive is a must, as well as setting boundaries to ensure you are not overwhelmed as you try to recover from burnout.

Having other supports in your circle, like a comfortable place to relax or even a counselor who can help you not only recover from burnout, but also provide you with the knowledge and skills to prevent it from happening in the future.

Michael D. Levitt

Michael Levitt

Founder and Chief Burnout Officer, The Breakfast Leadership Network | Certified NLP and CBT Therapist | Author, “Burnout Proof

Burnout occurs when people are in a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It happens when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.

Signs of burnout include:

  • Poor sleep habits, where you seem groggy or overly tired on the Zoom calls.
  • Lost motivation, where you no longer seem to have the drive to perform.
  • Increased mistakes and poor memory, where you are making more mistakes than usual, and they’re forgetful.
  • Decision-making struggles. People struggle to give clear responses to questions.
  • Irritable. People are arguing more with co-workers and management.

Use your vacation time and encourage their teams to do the same

To avoid burnout, individuals need to use their vacation time and encourage their teams to do the same. 

In a pandemic world, most people are reluctant to take vacation time because they associate vacations and traveling somewhere. Staycations are helpful if proper boundaries around work are used. 

Establish boundaries around working hours

Another step is to establish boundaries around working hours. Since the pandemic, many people have also become full-time school teachers due to lockdowns and in-class schools being shifted to remote learning. 

Encouraging employees and yourself to shut down work by early evening is crucial to maintaining the well-being of yourself and your team.

Crucial steps to prevent burnout include:

  • Encouraging yourself to get proper sleep. Maintaining a no-work-hours policy and encouraging yourself to get 7-8 hours of restful sleep is critical for restful and healing sleep.
  • Accessing a dietitian or nutritionist to find the right foods for you gives entrepreneurs the natural energy to perform and navigate stressful situations without the sugary and highly caffeinated “pick-me-ups” that are often the go-to for entrepreneurs and their teams.
  • Get more active. Walking check-in calls instead of zoom calls will help us get in some more activity instead of being chained to our desk (or chair/couch if working remotely.)

Keyasia Downs, MSW, LISW

Keyasia Downs

Mental Health Therapist and Owner, Mahogany Restorative Counseling

Being kind to yourself is key

How to recognize burnout?

Signs of burnout can be difficult to recognize and even harder to combat. The first step to recovering from burnout is to identify what burnout looks and feels like for you. 

Do you withdraw from friends, dread going to work, or sleep more often than usual? Paying attention to your signs of burnout will make it much easier to notice, as burnout may not look the same for everyone. Taking note of your mood and how your body feels is also essential in identifying burnout. 

How to address burnout?

Once you have identified what your burnout looks like, take time to think about what helps you feel more relaxed or at peace. 

Any activity can be used for stress management and coping with burnout. Some people enjoy coloring or chewing on ice, while others may want to spend time with loved ones or reward themselves with something. 

There is no wrong way to manage your stress, and even activities that seem menial can be coping skills if they help you to feel better. Observe what activities are effective for you and begin doing them often, even when you’re not feeling burnt out or stressed. 

If you struggle with figuring out what helps decrease your stress, it’s okay to find new activities that can help. Test out new hobbies, and try out things you’ve wanted to experience but haven’t been able to yet. 

The more you do something, the more natural it will feel, which means it is more likely to become a habit you can use when you’re having a tough time. 

When you recognize that you’re experiencing burnout, being kind to yourself is key. You may not feel as productive or energetic as you usually do, and that’s okay. 

Forcing yourself to push through burnout can often worsen the effects and mean you’ll have to work much harder to recover from it. Listening to your body and mind to combat burnout is a form of self-care that ensures you can be the best version of yourself. 

Ellen Albertson, PhD, RDN, NBC-HWC

Ellen Albertson

Psychologist | Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, The Midlife Whisperer™ | Author, “Rock Your Midlife

What is burnout, and why is it a problem?

Burnout is a psychological syndrome triggered by prolonged, chronic job stress. It is fueled by a hustle culture that leaves little time for self-care. It is a huge problem and occupational health hazard associated with: 

  • Poor physical and mental health
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep issues
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

A ComPsych survey of over 5,100 North American workers found that 62% reported high-stress levels and extreme fatigue. 

Self-care is key to recovery

Most people I know and work with, especially busy leaders, caregivers, and entrepreneurs, complain that they are tired, feel depleted, lack energy, and are heading toward burnout. 

Making time for self-care is key to recovery. The first step is to ditch the guilt around self-care. 

When it comes to prioritizing self-care, people experiencing burnout often have an “Immunity to Change.” They feel guilty when they put themselves first or take time away from work and have a subconscious block around making time for self-care, which needs to be addressed. 

Create healthy and doable routines

The next step is to create healthy, doable routines, from taking breaks from work, getting adequate sleep, and eating right to exercising daily, having fun, and connecting with loved ones. 

These self-care habits enable people to charge, manage stress and recover from burnout. 

Make self-compassion your superpower

Practicing self-compassion, essentially treating yourself like a good friend, is also a powerful tool to help people recover from burnout. Research shows that regular practice reduces stress, depression, and anxiety and increases well-being, resilience, and optimism.

Anastasia and Sara Prech

Anastasia and Sara Prech

Board Certified Nurse Coaches, Live Well and Whole

As nurses and burnout coaches, we think burnout recovery includes your mental health, mindset, and physical well-being! 

Debrief after a stressful event

The first step is to debrief after stressful events! Talking things out helps us to process events and move forward. It’s also a great time to assess your coping mechanisms and be honest with yourself about which ones are healthy and which ones will only numb you out. 

“Think – Breath – Move – Be”

The next step is to recover. This means incorporating daily practices that help your parasympathetic nervous system (the rest, digest, recover one!). 

We suggest a model we call “think – breath – move – be.” Take time for mindfulness, breath work, gentle movement, and some time to just relax! Adding “white space” to your schedule can be a game changer. 

Look at your nutrition; Focus on real, whole foods

After this, we recommend that you nourish! This means looking at your nutrition to ensure it is helping your overall health and wellness. Focus on real, whole foods. 

Learn about anti-inflammatory foods that help keep your blood sugar stable and incorporate them into your diet! Add in some low-intensity exercise as well. 

Work on establishing and protecting your boundaries

The last step is to empower. Work on establishing and protecting your boundaries. 

  • Assess if your confidence needs a tune-up. 
  • Work on your mindset to overcome limiting beliefs related to your ability to prioritize self-care without guilt. 
  • Set goals that align with how you want to feel and work towards them with an accountability partner. 

Martha Teater, LMFT

Martha Teater

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Mental Health Trainer, Choosing Therapy

Once you realize you’re experiencing burnout, you can start to recover from it. There are several things you can do to move toward wellness at work.

Take charge of your own well-being

Nobody else can do this for you; it’s actually something only you can do. Think about what brings you refreshment and renewal, and do more of those things. 

These may be ideas you used to enjoy but stopped doing or new things you haven’t tried before. Consider things that are affordableaccessible, and available. The goal is to start building things into your daily life that bring pleasure and joy.

Look for like-minded coworkers and discuss how you can push for change at work

Part of the responsibility for recovering from burnout is on you, and part of it is on your employer. Push for change that benefits you and others. 

Advocate for building a culture of wellness at work. Take part in moving the conversation forward with practical, innovative ideas.

Make sure to meet your basic needs

This includes eating well, improving sleep, and building meaningful connections with the people you care about. 

Get outside, move your body, and practice gratitude. Focus on things that nourish you rather than drain you.

Dr. Catherine Prato-Lefkowitz, PhD, MBA, MSN, RN, CNE

Catherine Prato-Lefkowitz

Nurse Advocate, Nursing School Professor, and Psychiatric Nurse | Founder, NurseMuse

Find a mental support system

I’d encourage anyone dealing with burnout to find a mental support system. One crucial factor in preventing burnout is adequate preventative mental health care. 

It’s unsustainable to work through symptoms of burnout and be able to succeed in a role. Just like getting your vital signs taken at the doctor, a mental health assessment should be more widely available for all people. 

More than asking, “are you sad/depressed” there needs to be more in-depth conversations about mental health across industries. 

Mental health resource numbers, websites, and posters should be encouraged as resources for employees to use! If executives don’t find a way to better understand the needs of their staff, they will undoubtedly feel the repercussions.

Sarah Deane

Sarah Deane

Founder and CEO, MEvolution

Focus on “you”

Who hasn’t experienced some form of burnout in the past several years? It is okay to acknowledge and accept when you are experiencing burnout —it’s human. However, after that acceptance, it’s time to focus on recovery. 

The fastest way, within your professional or personal life, is to first turn your attention inward. You will not recover by finishing that last work project or ensuring the last laundry stack is put away. Yes, those responsibilities will all follow suit, but the first step is to focus on you.

Identify the source

Recovering from burnout requires a two-pronged approach. The first step is to identify the sources of burnout. What is it that is making you feel fatigued? Or detached? 

Once you have identified the sources, there is a short-term need to regain some capacity. This could be creating distance between yourself and the source, such as an afternoon off, a long weekend, or limiting interactions with someone. 

It’s important to note that sometimes, the source of burnout is ourselves. We can experience negative thought patterns regularly for some and are often barely aware that it’s happening. 

A cacophony of these “blockers” contributes to the feeling of burnout. The good news is you were not born with these blockers; you’ve learned them along the way. 

Now is the time to identify those interpersonal conversations in your mind holding you back from being fulfilled and present in your daily life.

Identify the solution

Once you have regained some capacity, you can look to the second prong, the long-term solution. Here, you will want to look at why the sources are influencing you in this way and then shift to the solution. 

For example, if the source has too much on your plate, then in the short term, you may delegate some tasks or perhaps take a day off to recoup some energy. 

However, in the long term, you will need to ask why you have so much on your plate. Do you find boundaries challenging? Or perhaps suffer from people-pleasing? These internal blockers impact how you show up, make choices, and respond to the demands on your energy and attention. 

Once you are aware of your personal blockers, it’s time to combat them. I encourage you to go on a journey of understanding where those blockers are coming from and find ways to retrain your mind, so it becomes comfortable in choosing the more positive path when negativity arises. 

Though you have to do the work, there are countless resources to assist you in that journey—therapy, meditation, life coaching, and empowerment training. Find the resource that speaks to you, and embrace it. You are worth it.

Take action

There truly will always be one more laundry load to fold—it never stops! Between the demands of our work, home, and social lives, it can seem easy to postpone focusing on the most important life—our personal one. 

However, once you have identified your blockers and decided upon a solution to navigate through the process of changing the way you think, it’s time to put it into constant action. 

Work on your action plan to ensure that you minimize the risk of returning to burnout or so that you can shift out of a burnt-out state. 

For example: A conversation with your manager on priorities and sustainable workload or working on your internal blockers. Without a longer-term plan in place, many can quickly return to a state of burnout. 

Stressors will always be there, but it is your response and how you navigate them that will protect your energy and stop you from being depleted. 

If you find it hard to take this action, remind yourself that this work focusing on you is just as important, if not more, than the work requirements from your job or home. This work will determine how all other facets of your life will unfold—that seems important, right? 

Cait Donovan

Cait Donovan

Keynote Speaker| Burnout Expert | Author, “The Bouncebackability Factor

When it comes to burnout recovery, look toward resentment

It might sound counterintuitive, yet using resentment is a surefire way to reduce burnout symptoms. Resentment works like a stud finder for broken boundaries. 

The methodology is simple:

  1. Notice your resentment.
  2. Make a note of it (be as specific as possible).
  3. Review those resentments and decide on what kind of boundary to implement.
  4. Implement your boundary.

Once you know where resentment is living, it is time to create boundaries

The boundary that you need to implement might be internal or external

An internal boundary often doesn’t need to be discussed with others. It has to do with a tendency to overgive to others, even when they aren’t asking for anything.

It might sound like, “I am going to release the responsibility of ensuring everyone around me is comfortable all the time, and I will trust people to speak up if they need something.” 

An external boundary will require a conversation. An external boundary comes into play when you need to change the rules, or unspoken assumptions, within a personal or professional relationship. 

It might sound like, “Hi Jan, I’ve been happy to be the office birthday celebrator so far, and it is time to hand over that job to someone else. Is picking up cupcakes on birthdays something you could take over?”

It could be a simple delegation, or it might be a more serious relationship shift.

Allow resentment to guide you, and you’ll find space for gratitude

Feeling gratitude, joy, awe, and even contentedness can feel like a chore when you’re burnt out. Starting on the opposite side of the emotional spectrum will allow you to truly address real issues and create space for more uplifting emotions and more energy. 

Lorenzo P. Lewis

Lorenzo Lewis

Mental Health Speaker and Advocate | Author, “Jumping Over Life’s Hurdles and Staying in the Race

Burnout has become a widespread problem, with people across the nation experiencing negative side effects from either being overworked or underappreciated at work. In fact, in a recent study conducted by Deloitte, 77% say they have experienced burnout at their current job. 

Burnout is something that should not be ignored, considering the serious physical consequences it can have on a person, including: 

  • Excessive stress
  • Exhaustion
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure

Practice mindfulness and get into a flow state

Recovery is possible, and those experiencing burnout should consider taking action as soon as possible to get themselves back on track. 

For those looking to take action, I suggest practicing mindfulness and taking time to reflect on the situation. To do so, you should consider journaling about your current situation and job. 

Ask yourself questions such as, “Is this worth risking my physical health for?” or “What actionable steps can I take to improve my current situation at work?” 

In addition to clearly getting your thoughts out, I would balance this with an activity that can get you in a flow state to help clear your mind. Examples of this include going on a run or meditating.

Create your ideal schedule

Another impactful tactic I often recommend is having the individual create their ideal schedule. What would each day look like for you if you lived in a perfect world without a job that makes you feel burnt out? 

Often what is missing from the burnout person’s life are things such as self-careleisure, or social time—all of which seem like they take up more time than they do. 

Can you block out time during your day to do these things that will improve your life? If so, block out that time and reprioritize what you think will help you feel better. 

Ask for help from a friend, family member, or mental health professional

Being burned out is a difficult and complex situation to be in. We all need to work, but it can have serious consequences when work starts affecting your physical, emotional, and mental health. This is why I am an advocate for seeking help, whether from a friend, family member, or mental health professional. 

Talking to someone about your current situation can be the support you need to help you through it and recover successfully

Kate Conroy, SHRM-SCP

Kate Conroy

Human Resources Consultant, Red Clover HR

Focus on what you can control

When experiencing burnout, it seems like all of the factors leading to it are outside of your control. It feels hopeless and leads to a lack of motivation and exhaustion. 

The key to recovering from burnout is to focus on the factors within your control and make changes, even if they are just small steps. 

The most manageable factors you can influence are learning what drives you, communicating what you need, and taking ownership of how you spend your time away from the office.

What drives you?

This question can be very tricky to answer, especially if you are feeling burned out, but it is essential to working your way out of it, staying motivated, and becoming re-energized. 

What drives you are: 

  • The things that make you excited to get up in the morning.
  • The things you look forward to.
  • The things that make you feel good about what you are doing. 

They will be different for everyone. 

Within my team, we use the matrix of TTI Success Insights’ 12 Driving Forces to discover and discuss our motivations. 

One of my primary driving forces is Intellectual; I’m motivated by learning opportunities. When I feel burned out, I look for ways to create learning opportunities to bring motivation, energy, and excitement back into my work.

The framework is just a tool. Use what you have available to learn about your motivators and work to find opportunities to integrate them into your work. 

If you don’t have access to an assessment tool to make this easier for you, reflect on times when you were really excited to go to work. What elements were present that sparked this motivation? Once you have your list of these elements, seek ways to build them into your work.

Effectively communicate what is working and what is not

Most folks don’t have the autonomy in the workplace to dictate their work to the degree that they can construct it around their motivators. This is where communication comes into play. 

You need to be able to effectively communicate with your manager the support that you need to be successful. 

Related: Effective Communication: How to Improve Your Communication Skills

Most probably do not have a relationship with their manager where they can bluntly say, “I’m feeling burned out,” without sending their manager into a panic. 

However, this message can be communicated in a softer, more effective manner:

“I’ve been feeling a lack of motivation lately. I’ve noticed that X, Y, and Z really motivate me, and I produce great results. Can we talk about opportunities for me to get more involved in work that would tap into these factors?”

Likewise, it is just as important to be able to communicate what is not working or what is working against you. Having this conversation might look like, “I’ve been really challenged with X. It’s a type of work that I’ve found really drains me, and I’m not able to put my best foot forward. Can we talk about the way we are handling these tasks?” 

Your manager may or may not be able to take tasks off your plate, but they might be open to changing processes so that your work can be accomplished in a way that you can perform at your best.

Be intentional with your time

Burnout feels all-consuming and quickly spreads from work-life to all other aspects of your life. Although the source may be work-related, the solution doesn’t need to be limited to work. 

When experiencing burnout, the temptation is to just take it easy and rest outside work hours, maybe binge Netflix all weekend. But this can have the opposite impact. Instead of feeling rested and refreshed, it feels like the only thing you do is work. 

Outside of your work, make sure you make time for the things that motivate you. Whatever it is, add it to your schedule and make it a priority.

Stephani Shepherd

Stephani Shepherd

Owner, Great Life is a Must | Women’s Empowerment Coach

Give up; try something else

This may sound like bad advice, but when you are dealing with burnout, it means that whatever you are currently doing cannot be sustained in the long run. Change is the key to recovering from burnout. 

Determining what needs to change may be a challenge, but it is a vital part of the process. You need to identify everything you are currently doing and feeling relating to burnout.

  • How many hours are you working? 
  • Are your tasks too repetitive? 
  • Are you making time for things you love? 
  • Do you have to interact with certain people unwillingly? 
  • Are you no longer feeling inspired? 
  • Are you feeling anxious while completing a specific task? 
  • Are you feeling regretful about something?

These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself to really narrow down the source of burnout and what needs to be changed. Once you identify what needs to change, commit to taking the first step. 

You may be surprised to learn that one seemingly simple change in your routine can help you recover from burnout. 

Things like taking a break to do more of what you love, setting better boundaries, and leaning on your support system will jumpstart your recovery from burnout. 

If you have taken the bold step and admitted you are burnt out, follow through with your commitment to making the necessary changes, and you will successfully recover. Make you and your well-being a priority!

Elizabeth Pearson

Elizabeth Pearson

 Executive Coach | Author, “Career Confinement

Track what’s stressing you out

Keep a log of times you feel triggered or anxious throughout the day or week. It could be from people, places, or situations you encounter.

Evaluate your support system/network

Make a list of everyone you would categorize in your support network and think of a time you needed them. Were they there for you? Were they good listeners or trying to one-up you? 

Having an unconditionally supportive network is key to overcoming burnout because it will give you a safe place to talk through your struggles and reassure you that you’ll be ok.

Advocate for yourself to your boss

Be transparent with your boss and team about your needs. If your workload is too high or your turnaround time for a project is too tight, communicate that to them and ask which priority they’d recommend you downgrade.

Consider making a switch

If you work in what feels like a toxic environment, it may be time to seriously consider moving on. 

If you’ve tried advocating for yourself, having work-life boundaries, and diving deep into self-care, but nothing changes your day-to-day mental load and stress, then start exploring other opportunities. 

Polish up your LinkedIn profile and reconnect with your network and recruiters. See how the hiring landscape is in your field at the moment, as you may be in demand more now than you have been in the past.

Monika Martin

Monika Martin

Life Transformation Coach, Embody Your Flow

Burnout happens because we live in a culture that promotes multi-tasking, overachieving, and hustling. Moreover, the little or big unhealed trauma we’ve experienced during our lives impacts our nervous system regulation. 

The more trauma, the more dysregulated the nervous system will be and the higher the chances of being burned out.

The body speaks through symptoms all the time: fatigue, muscle pain, digestive issues, and headaches, but we are not used to listening to the wisdom of our bodies, so we push through until our bodies and minds break down.

If you are going through burnout, here are five tips to recover :

Ask for sick leave

Ask for sick leave because you won’t be able to recover if you keep going to work every day. You need to remove any stressful situations from your life for the time being.

Find a compassionate and understanding therapist

Find a compassionate and understanding therapist that will help you process the feelings around your situation and what might have caused burnout in the first place.

Surround yourself with loved ones

Do not isolate yourself. Keep being social, all the while respecting your body and health. Do not go to dinner parties and come back home at 1 am.

Take care of yourself

Take care of yourself by connecting with nature, doing practices that help regulate the nervous system (acupuncture, shiatsu, meditation, yoga), going to bed before 11 pm, and eating healthy meals.

Bring more joy to your life

Do activities that light your soul on fire and make you feel good. Chances are you had burnout because you had very few things that brought joy into your life.

Carina Yeap

Carina Yeap

Certified Rapid Transformational Therapy Practitioner | Founder, Emerged Butterfly

Have time for creative pursuits

Constantly working your thinking brain can cause tiredness and fatigue. 

In a week’s schedule, spare time for yourself to engage in creating arts, enjoying music, and experiencing something new to allow for inspiration and as a form of recharging yourself from constantly using the logical side of your brain.

Connect with your breath

Oftentimes when we overwork and feel burnt out, we’re not in tune with our bodies. Notice, is your breath shallow and quick? 

Turn away from your devices and sit down with your body, taking deep breaths in and feeling your body as it inhales and exhales. Doing this practice, even for at least five minutes each day, can greatly bring you back to a sense of calm and reduce feeling overwhelmed. 

Be ok with asking for help

We can often be our harshest ally; it’s ok to reach out for help either by asking your family member or outsourcing to a paid part-timer. 

When we overwork ourselves, we exchange “success” at the expense of true connection, happiness, and health. 

Remember, your health and loving connections are the backbones of a successful life. No amount of money or fame will make you happy if you lose your health or loved ones in the process. 

Declan Edwards

Declan Edwards photo

Founder, BU Happiness College

Identify which stage of burnout you’re at

Contrary to common belief, burnout is not a light switch; it’s a spectrum with 12 distinct stages ranging from “a need to prove yourself” through to “full burnout syndrome.” The stage of burnout you’re at will influence your recovery plan.

Take a moment to pause

Whether that means a couple of days off work or going on a trip, take the time to have a break from your normal day-to-day routine. 

It’s hard to solve a burnout issue in the same environment that caused the issue in the first place.

Identify what you need at that time

  • Is it more of a sense of meaning and purpose? 
  • Is it a connection to a social group? 
  • Is it more self-care? 
  • Is it a hunger for change and adventure? 
  • Is it more structure and consistency? 

Once you’re clear on the gap, make sure you do the work to address it. Awareness starts the change process; action completes it.

If you’re stuck on any of the above, then consider getting a professional in your corner to guide the way and keep you accountable. A counselor, therapist, or personal coach is a great help in accelerating your recovery from burnout.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is burnout a mental health issue?

Burnout isn’t currently recognized as a mental health disorder in DSM-5, but it’s considered a significant problem that can lead to other mental health issues if not addressed. 

Burnout can contribute to depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders and can also have physical health consequences.

Can burnout be cured quickly?

Recovering from burnout is a process that can take time, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Some people recover relatively quickly, while others need more time and support to overcome burnout. It’s important to be patient with yourself and seek the help and resources you need to fully recover.

Can burnout affect different areas of life, or is it just related to work?

Burnout can impact all areas of life, not just work. It can affect personal relationships, hobbies, and other aspects of life outside of work. Burnout can also have consequences for physical health, such as an increased risk for heart disease and other chronic illnesses.

Can burnout be prevented?

Burnout can be prevented by taking steps to manage stress and promote overall well-being. Some strategies to prevent burnout include:

• Setting realistic goals and expectations for yourself
• Prioritizing self-care, such as exercising, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep
• Maintaining a healthy work-life balance
• Practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing
• Seeking support from friends, family, or a mental health professional

What should I do if I suspect that I’m experiencing burnout?

If you suspect you’re experiencing burnout, it’s important to take action to address it. Consider talking to a mental health professional or getting support from a colleague or supervisor. It can also be helpful to take time off from work to rest and recharge. 

Remember that burnout is a serious problem that can have long-term consequences if not addressed. That’s why it’s important to take steps to recover and prevent it from happening again in the future.

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