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Bouncing Back from Burnout: What It Is, How to Prevent It, and Ways to Recover

Updated: Jul 11

Relentless work can leave anyone burnt out. Whether you're chasing deadlines, juggling responsibilities, or simply navigating the daily grind, the race to get everything done can often send you hurtling towards total exhaustion. In this post, we’ll go over the nature of burnout, offering tips for prevention and strategies for recovering your energy and peace of mind. 

burnt out woman with her head on her desk

What is Burnout? 

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged and excessive stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet the demands of your occupation or lifestyle. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place. 


Signs of burnout include: 

  • Emotional Exhaustion: Feeling drained, overwhelmed, and unable to cope. 

  • Depersonalization: Feeling detached from your life or your ability to control your life. This may manifest as feeling empty, cynical, or listless. 

  • Worsening Mental Health: Developing new or worsening insomnia, anxiety, and/or depression. 

  • Reduced Self-Confidence: Experiencing feelings of incompetence and a lack of achievement. 

  • Physical Health Struggles: Worsening health including fatigue, aches and pains, or more frequent illness.  


How to Recover from Burnout 

Preventing and recovering from burnout involves taking measures to reduce your stress and give your mind and body a break. Here are some tips to help you get back to feeling like yourself: 

Prioritize Self-Care 

Take steps to carve out time in your schedule for self-care, even if you have to start small – creating new routines will help to make self-care a priority. Start introducing self-care activities into your free time, like guided meditations, beginner yoga videos, or deep breathing exercises. Choose activities that make you feel relaxed and in tune with your body. 

Fuel Your Body 

Make healthy habits non-negotiable. Poor diet and sleep hygiene will only worsen fatigue and exhaustion. Aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. If you struggle to fall asleep, consider blocking out screen-free time before bed, or ending your day with a guided sleep meditation.  

Strive for a balanced diet, prioritizing nutrient-dense meals over snacks. Remember, carbohydrates are your brain’s preferred source of fuel – so don’t be afraid to add some carbs to your plate! 

Practice Mindfulness 

Become more aware of your stress levels and early warning signs of burnout. Techniques like journaling, mindfulness meditation, and spending time in nature can help manage stress by allowing your mind to take a moment to be still and reflective. The most important part of mindfulness is the practice of intentionally releasing your thoughts, stopping the cycle of worrying or dwelling on a thought. Through repetition of this practice, mindfulness meditation will allow you to handle life’s stresses with a greater sense of calm and resilience as your negative thoughts and emotions begin to feel fleeting and impermanent. 

Seek Support 

Having a reliable support system to share your struggles with can help to alleviate some of the pressure. Don't be afraid to talk to a trusted friend or family member if you are feeling overwhelmed. Talking about your struggles can be a huge weight off your shoulders and provide valuable support. Therapy or counseling can also be a huge help, especially in cases where your social support system isn’t quite meeting your needs. Having a professional to work through your struggles with can be a great benefit to your mental health.  


How to Prevent Burnout at Work 

While anyone can experience burnout, the most common cause of burnout is work. If your job is driving your burnout, it’s time to create a healthier relationship with your job: 

Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance 

Schedule time for activities you enjoy outside of work. Pursue hobbies and community events, spend time with loved ones, and disconnect from work communications. If you struggle to keep your mind off work, try incorporating mindfulness meditations after hours to help you let go of the work mindset and step into your free time with a clear, calm mind. 

Set Boundaries 

Communicate your boundaries clearly to colleagues and managers. Learn to say no to extra work, rush projects, or commitments that drain your energy. Try to disconnect after work hours and during breaks, either silencing notifications or avoiding having work apps on your personal devices.  

Delegate and Ask for Help 

Don't be afraid to delegate tasks or ask for help when you're overloaded. A supportive work environment can make a big difference. If you haven’t already, try asking your manager or supervisor if there is a way to reduce your current workload. In some cases, managers may not be cued into the signs that you are struggling. Additionally, you could consider reaching out to your employee assistance program to assist you in effectively managing your time and stress while at work. 


Re-evaluate Your Work Situation 

If the above steps don’t help, whether because your employer refuses help or the changes made don’t improve your stress, it may be time to consider a more significant change. Changing your role, employer, or even career can help you to step away from what is making you miserable. While this may seem like a stressful life change, consider the ongoing stress you stand to take on by staying in an unhealthy situation. 


Reclaiming Your Peace of Mind 

Recovering from burnout takes time and energy, but your happiness is worth the effort! Be patient with yourself and celebrate small victories along the way. By prioritizing yourself, you can prevent burnout and maintain a healthy balance that fosters both your personal and professional well-being. 


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Emily McGuire is a Marketing Associate and staff writer for Resolve Wellness. With a Bachelor's degree in International Business from UC San Diego, she is a California native with a passion for writing, digital marketing, health, and wellness.

Reviewed by: Erynne Hill, MS, ATC, HHP, BFRC, a Nationally Certified Athletic Trainer and Massage Therapist who has been a part of the healthcare field since 2002. She is the Director of Resolve Wellness, specializing in manual lymphatic drainage and prenatal massage. Erynne has extensive knowledge of both massage and physiology, even receiving her Master's degree in Exercise Physiology from San Diego State University.


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