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How to Recover From Burnout

 By Camila C. 
Last Updated on: January 8, 2023

In today’s world, it is not uncommon to feel mentally and physically exhausted with the stressful environment we have to face daily, plus all the things happening around the world right now.

You might be burned out if you have felt a lack of motivation, are moody, or even have caught yourself evading your responsibilities. Let’s explore what this means, how you can identify burnout, and some ways to overcome it.

What is burnout?

The World Health Organization defines burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Currently, it isn’t considered a medical diagnosis, but more of an “occupational phenomenon.” Nonetheless, it can affect every aspect of our lives. 

Letting burnout take over can have considerable consequences, such as depression, diabetes, irritability, substance abuse, and vulnerability to other diseases. Therefore, it is crucial to pay attention to what your body and mind are telling you so that you can act before burnout gets to an advanced stage.

How can I identify burnout?

Some symptoms of burnout are:

  • Feeling drained or exhausted.
  • Feeling mentally distanced from your job.
  • Having negative or cynical feelings toward your job.
  • Procrastinating a lot and having trouble getting started.
  • Changes in your appetite or sleep patterns.
  • Decreased concentration.
  • Feeling overwhelmed.
  • Feeling like your responsibilities are either tedious or too much. 
  • Self-doubting.
  • Using food, alcohol, or any other substance to cope.
  • Getting sick more often.

If you can relate to even one of these symptoms, especially the ones referring to your job, you might be experiencing burnout. But even if it isn’t, you shouldn’t ignore it. These symptoms can also indicate something else going on in your body or your daily routine that is impacting your well-being, either mentally or physically.

How do I overcome it?

Identify what is causing it.

Before you know how to face an issue, you must understand what is causing it. Burnout often appears when you feel you have too many responsibilities to handle, even if those responsibilities are not related to your job. Here are some of the most common causes of burnout:

 Job-related possible causes:

  • Unclear job expectations: Not knowing what is expected from you can lead to constantly being on alert while figuring out your responsibilities. This can put you directly under constant stress and lead you to burnout.
  • Feeling of excessive workload: When you feel like you have to do too many urgent things for an extended period of time, your optimism can be affected. This can also happen in jobs where urgency is part of the daily routine, such as paramedics or any other position in which time to act is scarce.
  • Work-life imbalance: Feeling like your job is taking over your whole life can overwhelm you. This lack of feeling in control over your life can definitely drain you out.

Non-job-related possible causes:

  • Perfectionism and pessimism: Being a perfectionist or someone pessimistic can bring you many worries, increasing your stress levels and leading you to burnout.
  • Not having enough rest: If you have other responsibilities and feel like you don’t have the time to do the things you want or rest properly, it can significantly impact your mental health and burn you out.

Identifying the cause of your burnout certainly needs self-discovery work, these are not the only reasons someone can be burned out. You will have to practice listening to yourself and being aware of how a situation is impacting your mind and body. Once you realize what is causing you distress, you will be able to change it.

Reach out for support

Whether it is a mental health professional, your family, or your friends, having someone by your side while overcoming burnout can make you feel supported and help you heal faster. These people can understand your situation and, at the same time, give you some advice and another perspective. Maybe your job offers mentoring, or you can find a group online in which you can share your concerns and even help others. These are also great options to help you with this recovery journey. 

Re-prioritize and re-organize your responsibilities

If you believe there is too much on your plate right now. You may have to ask your supervisor to re-delegate tasks or get you a partner that can help you out with your job. 

Once you feel what you have to do is manageable, identify the urgency of each task and organize them in a way that allows you to spend the time you need on each while having enough time to rest.

Try new things out!

Hopefully, after all of that, you will have enough time to work on yourself while doing your best at work. Check on those habits that require improving, like your diet or sleeping schedule. 

If you don’t usually do physical activity, you could start working out, trying something less intense like yoga, or just implementing a 10-minute morning stretching routine and some meditation.

Try something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time for, like learning a new instrument, reading a book, getting into an improv group, or learning a new language.

Find something that gives you joy and doesn’t necessarily feel like a new responsibility you have to face. New experiences can help you find the motivation to keep going in all aspects of your life and regain the energy you thought was lost forever.

While overcoming burnout, you must always remember that this is a process, and not necessarily a linear one. Just like you gradually felt like things were meaningless or that your job was overwhelming, it will also take time to return to your best self. So don’t lose hope in the journey, be patient with yourself. 

While experiencing burnout, everything feels heavy and hard to do. But with time and baby steps, it will be possible to get on your feet again. Once you get out of it, remember to do self-check-ins periodically to avoid falling back.

Well-being, rather than something you achieve, is more like a never-ending process of self-awareness. That way, you will be able to identify what contributes to your physical and mental health and what really isn’t.

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