How to Beat and Recover from Burnout

| WRITTEN BY: Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN
how to recover from burnout balance over burnout

Feeling like life’s been kicking you while you’re down? Have no fear—read on to learn how to recover from burnout.

We’ve all been there—a million different things on our plates, each demanding our attention: keeping the house clean, planning out meals, trying to finish up a work project. The list goes on and on. Even completing a task often doesn’t help because they just keep on coming… it can feel endless!

It’s easy to feel exhausted in today’s fast-paced society and dealing with burnout can seem impossible when there’s so much that needs to be done. However, it is possible to beat burnout. And luckily there are ways to recover from burnout no matter your situation.

Here is the information you need not only to beat burnout, but to also recover from its effects.

What is Burnout?

First, what exactly counts as burnout? Though stress and burnout are often used interchangeably, they are different. Burnout refers to the sense of complete and total exhaustion that follows chronic stress. When you’re burnt out, there’s very little left in your physical and emotional reserves.

You might wake up fatigued and sick, struggle through the day, and go to bed feeling as though you’ve completed nothing of use. Though it can be discouraging, there is a light at the end of the tunnel—you can get through this. Just take it one step at a time.

How to Beat Burnout

You’re already taking the first huge step by slowing down and acknowledging you’re burnt out. Once you can take a second to look around and identify where your major stressors are, you can start to focus on what’s most important to you, and what can be put aside to reduce your workload.

Ask Yourself These Questions

Here are some quick questions to get you started on beating burnout. Feel free to even jot down your responses to evaluate any patterns.

  • Are there any areas of your day that cause you more stress than any others?
  • Is there any activity you’d love to do but don’t have the time for?
  • Do any parts of your day feel out of control?

Simple Tactics to Fall Back On

It’s also important to have some helpful basic tips to keep in mind for when everything just gets to be too much. Having a quick favorite activity to turn to for a few minutes can pull you out of the pit of negative emotions. Sometimes even just getting a few minutes of sunshine can turn your day around and help you start to recover from burnout. As small as these steps may seem, they’re still something! 

How Long Does It Take to Recover from Burnout?

Sometimes it can feel like burnout lasts forever, especially when you don’t have the energy to get yourself out of a rut. Even though you’re drained, it might feel easier to stay in a tiring routine rather than invest the energy to change it.

For each person, burnout recovery is different—some people may recover in weeks, and for others, it may take years. There’s no rush, and it’s not a race. What’s most important is moving at a pace that feels right for you.

Pushing too hard or adding too many new activities can leave you worse off than where you started. Seek to find a balance in life instead of feeling discouraged when things don’t go as quickly as possible.

two women with mugs recovering from burnoutHow Do You Recover from Burnout While Still Working?

Work burnout can be difficult to deal with, especially because there’s often no other choice but to return to work, day after day. This is why introspection is so important—if you can identify even one stressful aspect of your workday that can be reduced, you’ll be on a better path to recovery in no time.

It can be even trickier to recover when you’re a parent, whether working or not. You not only have to care for children but also yourself, and sometimes it’s easier to push your needs aside than worry.

Though it can be difficult, try to find at least two moments throughout the day where you can be truly alone with yourself. Just having a few minutes to breathe deeply and relieve some stress can be a game-changer in recovering from burnout.

How to Beat & Recover from Burnout: 5 Tips for Success

Knowing that you’re burnt out and knowing what you have to do to recover are two very different things. Here are 5 top tips for beating and recovering from burnout. It’s time to get out of the quicksand and to solid ground.

1. Simplify your life. 

Meal planning might seem time-consuming at first but having a prepared meal waiting for you instead of continually stressing about what to cook can be immensely helpful in beating burnout. Keeping a few essentials on hand—such as canned soups and beans, frozen proteins and veggies, and quick-cook whole grains—can also alleviate dinnertime anxiety.

2. Clean up clutter.

Cleaning might seem like the last thing you want to do when burnt out. However, you don’t have to remodel anything—just take a few minutes each day to remove a few items that are cluttering up your kitchen. Not only will it be therapeutic, but you’ll also feel less burdened.

3. Unplug.

Being constantly on-call can be super stressful. Take some time to put aside your phone and focus on a non-screen activity, such as a crossword or craft. Plus, you’ll sleep better!

two friends laughing outside to beat burnout4. Find connection.

Friends and family are here for you, whether you need to seriously talk or just be distracted. You are never alone, and having people to talk to can improve your mood tenfold. You can even create a “burnout” word that you say to a friend when you really need to vent or unleash something you’ve been holding in.

5. Make time for yourself.

Constantly prioritizing others is part of what leads to burnout in the first place. Learn the power of saying no and practice putting your needs first in your life.

What was something you used to love doing for yourself before kids, work stress, life challenges, or all the above got in the way? Choose one thing and make sure to schedule it in.

Final Thoughts for How to Recover from Burnout

What’s most important to remember is that you won’t recover overnight. Burnout takes time to develop, and there’s no one magical cure. However, even one step towards recovery is the right direction. Soon you’ll be able to look back and marvel at how far you’ve come!

Looking for more? Here are the top resources for dealing with burnout, including podcasts and apps that can be at your fingertips in a moment’s notice.

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