5 Tips on How to Overcome Burnout in Your Life

by Matt Weik

Burnout is on the rise. A recent report from Indeed found that 52% of all workers are feeling burned out. Burnout is widespread and can result from overly demanding expectations, lack of control, lack of social support, taking on more than one can handle at work, school, or interpersonally with family and friends, or poor self-care, among other causes.

Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged and excessive stress. Burnout can affect your quality of life and well-being in various ways. The consequences of burnout include, but are not limited to, depression, anxiety, anger, irritability, fatigue, excessive stress, increased likelihood for high blood pressure, withdrawing from family and friends, inability to do a job well, loss of motivation, increasingly negative and cynical outlook, among others. The good news is that treatment for burnout will also work to prevent burnout in the first place.

After communicating with Haley Perlus, Sport and Performance Psychology Ph.D., here are some of the takeaways to help you overcome burnout in your life.

How to Overcome Burnout at Your Job

To overcome burnout at your job, first, identify what you can change. For example, learning how to say no at work when you‘re already working on multiple tasks simultaneously can help lessen stress and frustration. Evaluating your commitments, setting boundaries, and learning when to turn down requests will help you get the rest you need to give yourself and others your best. Setting personal and professional boundaries is essential to bouncing back from burnout because if you feel taken advantage of or disempowered by your relationships, your self-esteem is impacted.

Low self-esteem impacts stress levels, health, and personal relationships. Clear communication is critical in setting boundaries that empower yourself, give you more control, reduce stress, and put you on the road to better well-being.

How to Overcome Burnout as a Parent

Recovery can take two forms. One form is practicing stillness. Stillness techniques include but are not limited to meditation, deep breathing, sleep (including naps), and simple, quiet time. Even just one minute of quality deep breathing can renew emotional energy. Variety is the second form of recovery that can treat and prevent burnout. Variety is essentially offering yourself an opportunity to recover from one task while engaging in another task that requires a different type of energy. For example, physical activity provides positive stress for your body while creating extraordinary recovery for your emotions and mind.

Stepping away from your computer for 10 minutes and folding laundry while listening to calming, peaceful, and happy music can provide mental recovery. If you take advantage of it, your mind will escape from the computer, and the music will help with emotional recovery (as long as you don’t focus on the pressure of getting chores down and, instead, enjoy crossing laundry off the list while enjoying your favorite music).

No matter what form of recovery you choose, take everything one step at a time and make small changes along the way. Tiny changes can have a ripple effect that eventually leads to significant results in your overall health.

How to Overcome Burnout as a Caregiver

When a person is taking care of a family member, friend, or loved one, most of the sympathy tends to go to the ill or infirmed person. Many forget the emotional and physical toll that being a caregiver can present.

According to Pew Research Center, more than 40 million adults in North America are taking care of elderly, chronically ill, or disabled loved ones. Signs of burnout can include but are not limited to depression, fatigue, anxiety about the future, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, hopelessness, and other symptoms.

Although being a caregiver is never easy, there are some things you can do to make it more manageable. Ask for help whenever possible, whether that means paying a professional or calling upon a friend or family member. Don’t skip your own medical appointments. If you are not well, you are not in a position to care for someone else. Check policies for family leave benefits at work. Don’t feel like you must keep a constant vigil by their bedside, especially if you know there at times of the day they tend to nap or sleep. Use those times for some self-care and pampering.

Speak to other caregivers you know to get tips on how to manage or speak with the attending physician or hospital social worker.

How to Overcome Burnout as a Student

To overcome burnout as a student, set reasonable goals. Write a to-do list each day of assignments that need to get done and note their due dates. Use daily reminders and calendars to stay motivated to achieve deadlines. Set aside time and pencil in time to practice mindfulness. Time away from your obligations is just as important as time spent fulfilling your commitments.

Practice self-care to reduce stress and let your mind relax. Celebrate small wins along the way and keep the end goal in mind.

How to Overcome Burnout from Working Out

If you overtrain and don’t allow your body to recover fully, you will likely experience workout burnout. Also, if you use the same routine over a long period of time, boredom will kick in. If you overtrain, you are more susceptible to injuries that can take you out of your routine and make it harder to “jump back in.”

Setting realistic fitness goals for your age, level of condition, and work/personal schedule is critical. Many athletes or “weekend warriors” feel guilty if they take a break from training. It is wise to take around two days off a week from exercise.

There is a reason for the term “stress fracture.” While weight training is excellent for improving bone density and high-impact workouts are ideal for cardio, your bones get stressed, and in turn, that can lead to fractures.

Don’t obsess over numbers, reps, sets, etc. Focus more on how you feel after the workout mentally and physically. Switch up your workouts so that you don’t hit a plateau. If you need to, get a fitness partner, change your workout environment by changing gyms, put on some new music to listen to, or treat yourself to some new workout gear.