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The Ultimate Guide to Beating Burnout: 7 Tips to Help You Reenergize, Rebalance, and Restore

The Ultimate Guide to Beating Burnout: 7 Tips to Help You Reenergize, Rebalance, and Restore

These days, as we balance personal and professional expectations amid near-constant digital alerts and an ever-changing landscape of global concern, the stressors of everyday life can begin to seem unmanageable. If we’re not careful, the ongoing stress we endure can begin to manifest in more serious ways. Notable changes in perspective and behavior detrimental to our careers, relationships, and ultimately, our mental and physical health, can point to a far more troublesome possibility: You’re no longer looking at simply managing stress; now, you could be navigating the turbulent waters of burnout. 

Luckily, with awareness and small, impactful shifts to your lifestyle and mindset, brighter days are on the horizon. Learn to prevent, recognize, and overcome the effects of long-unchecked stress with these actionable tips for beating burnout. 

What is Burnout?

At a broad glance, burnout is the clinical term for the debilitating, fatigued state we find ourselves in as a result of prolonged stress. Sound familiar? 

If you think you may be experiencing burnout, look for these three telltale signs, according to the Harvard Business Review:

  1. Exhaustion: “a chronic state of fatigue.” 
    • Exhaustion can be both physical and emotional, and can feel like you’re running on empty. Maybe you’re feeling drained of energy, easily overwhelmed, or struggling to find motivation to complete tasks that once seemed simple. 
    1. Cynicism, or depersonalization: “psychological disengagement and detachment from work.”
      • Often the result of persistent conflict and overwork, Cynicism shows up as procrastination, a lack of engagement, and an overall negative, detached attitude. Maybe you’ve noticed a shift in your mood from positive and collaborative to pessimistic and irritable.  
    2. Inefficacy: “a sense of incompetency and lack of productivity.” 
      • Feelings of exhaustion and cynicism tend to leave us feeling, sooner or later, like we are no longer as capable of doing meaningful work or creating with confidence as we once were. If you’re experiencing inefficacy, you might be feeling far less skilled or accomplished than usual, and questioning what you can really achieve. 

      While burnout is most commonly associated with work stress, it can be experienced in a variety of scenarios. While long hours, toxic cultures, and bad management practices are among the biggest contributors to burnout in career, we can also experience relationship, parental, job seeker, caretaker, and creative burnout. As a recent article in Forbes describes it, we become depleted and experience burnout when we’re putting more into a job, relationship, or project than we’re getting out of it.

      The Risks of Burning Out

      While the implications of burnout for career and relationships can be staggering, from job insecurity to interpersonal conflicts, its potential impact on mental and physical well being can be dire. And, it’s on the rise. 

      Considering the potential risks burnout can pose to our health, from chronic pain and heart disease to depression and obesity, having the tools to create balance and prioritize wellness in our lives is all the more essential. 

      So when we find ourselves weary and depleted, how can we recover? Better yet, how can we ensure we never fall out of balance to begin with?

      Overcoming Burnout: Tips for Staying Bright, Balanced, and Motivated

      Relieve stress while achieving balance and staying motivated with these seven helpful tips. 

      1. Practice Setting Boundaries

      When do you notice feelings of stress and tension rising up? Are there certain personal or professional relationships that drain your energy and cause you to feel unheard and unappreciated? Or maybe you’ve found that a crazymaking project you’ve been assigned to at work has left you feeling cynical and disheartened?

      If you’re in a high-stress environment or dealing with a toxic workplace culture, keep in mind that burnout can be contagious. Boundaries can be the ultimate act of self-care. Identify and reduce exposure to stressors to begin the process of burnout recovery. 

      Practice setting boundaries by limiting interaction with individuals who add stress to your life by respectfully declining invitations. Limit time spent on projects or activities that drain you, or at the very least, begin to implement a strict work-life balance policy in your life: Do your best to leave work at the office, and allow yourself to decompress at home. If you work from home, be intentional about drawing boundaries in your schedule. If you’ve committed to stopping work at 6pm for your wellbeing, kindly communicate to colleagues that you will be signing off for the evening at that time– and power down. 

      2. Nourish Your Body

      When our bodies are depleted, every aspect of our physical and mental wellbeing is impacted. Get back to basics and replenish your body’s most foundational needs. 

      Schedule Sleep.

      Stress can be not only a cause of poor sleep, but a result of it as well. The more exhausted our bodies become, the harder time we have clocking quality sleep, which in turn can make managing stress even more challenging. Interrupt the cycle: Be intentional about building rest into your schedule, and commit to restoring your body by getting a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night. 

      Set a bedtime, stick to it, and try to allow yourself at least an hour of screen-free downtime beforehand to properly decompress.

      Prioritize Nutrition. 

      Eat a nutrient-rich diet. When we’re busy and overwhelmed, it can be easy to reach for the quickest– instead of the healthiest– food choices. Eating a balanced, whole diet, and focusing on getting the proper recommended servings of each food group can not only help give us the energy we need throughout the day, but fortify our immune systems during times of stress. 

      Try incorporating foods like oatmeal, salmon, berries, and even chocolate, which have been shown to help manage the effects of stress. 

      Balance the microbiome. Many studies in recent years have shown a link between gut health and stress response. According to Harvard Health, gut microbiome-balancing probiotics “...may help boost mood and cognitive function and reduce stress and anxiety.” 

      In 2021, the National Institutes of Health reported that certain probiotic strains (like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) have been observed to relieve stress and depression. Consider adding a daily probiotic containing these stress-fighting flora to your wellness regimen. 

      Stress can also lead to imbalances in the skin. Balancing the skin’s microbiome with probiotic topicals can help to relieve the effects of stress on the complexion. 

      Focus on complete nutrition. Even with the best of diet intentions, it can be difficult to get all of our nutritional needs from meals alone. Supplementing our diets with quality, foundational nutrients can help to give us the extra boost we need. Consider adding a complete multivitamin, with stress-regulating ingredients like magnesium and essential vitamins, to elevate energy levels, help you beat burnout and feel your natural best. 

      Get moving.

      Getting proper physical activity has been widely shown to reduce stress, improve sleep quality, increase energy, improve cognitive function and mental clarity, and contribute to overall productivity. 

      While exercise may be the last thing on our minds when we’re feeling irritable and exhausted, building just 30 minutes of movement into each day can lead to drastic improvements in energy levels, and help to lift low mood associated with burnout. Plus you’ll rest better come bedtime. 

      Try scheduling a thirty-minute walk during your workday. Put on your favorite music, throw on your sneakers, and enjoy a well-deserved break while incorporating low-impact movement.    

      3. Shift Your Mindset

      According to the British Psychological Society, people with certain personality traits, like high achievers, perfectionists, and those with pessimistic worldviews, can be more likely to become burned out. Sometimes, the greatest pressures we face are the ones we put on ourselves. 

      In 2007, Arianna Huffington famously collapsed from exhaustion in her New York office, nearly losing an eye on impact. “I wish I could go back and tell myself that not only is there no trade-off between living a well-rounded life and high performance,” she said, adding “performance is actually improved when our lives include time for renewal, wisdom, wonder and giving. That would have saved me a lot of unnecessary stress, burnout and exhaustion.”

      Reflect on what is truly important to you, and reevaluate your priorities

      Have you been holding yourself to unreasonable standards? Have you been focused on perfection over productivity? Have you been viewing the world through a pessimistic lens, or pushing yourself to achieve at the expense of your own well-being?

      We can’t escape the burnout cycle from the same mindset that got us there. Explore mindset-shifting self awareness practices, like journaling and meditation, to help build awareness and cultivate a supportive perspective. Check out a wellness journal designed specifically to help you overcome burnout, like The Burnout Workbook (Emily and Amelia Nagoski), or download the Calm app for thousands of mindfulness and meditation resources. 

      Stay informed with actionable books about burnout, like Arianna Huffington’s Your Time to Thrive or Ann Helen Peterson’s Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation, to gain useful skills and help guide you on your burnout recovery journey.  

      4. Cultivate Emotional Intelligence 

      A recent study published by the National Institutes of Health observed that individuals with lower levels of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) were more likely to develop burnout symptoms. 

      You’ve probably taken an IQ test at some point, but have you ever looked at your EQ? If you’d like to see how you score, try an assessment like this one from The Personality Lab.

      Harvard Business School describes EQ as “the ability to understand and manage your emotions and the emotions of others.” To help improve and fortify your EQ, and ultimately prevent and overcome burnout, try these tips:

      Focus on Self-Regulation. Lean into your self-awareness practices to recognize what you are feeling and why.. Acknowledge your emotions, and take a moment to pause, breathe, and process before responding impulsively to people and situations. 

      Hone Social Skills. Improve your communication and interactions with others. Learn to read body language and practice active listening to appropriately assess social situations, address conflict, and build healthier relationships. 

      Build Empathy. Our ability to understand the feelings and emotions of those around us is one of the most important elements of EQ. Take the time to truly appreciate what others are experiencing, and let it compassionately inform your actions and behaviors in relationships. And, don’t forget to show that same compassion to yourself.    

      5. Build Positive Connections

      The fatigue and disconnection of burnout can often cause us to feel isolated, with little energy or interest left for our important relationships. Take stock of your social circle: Have certain friendships or family relationships been neglected? Who are the people in your life who energize, uplift, and inspire you? Who makes you feel seen, heard, and understood?

      Positive relationships have been linked to improved mental health, a strengthened immune system, increased likelihood of recovery from disease, better self esteem, and even a longer lifespan.  

      So in addition to setting boundaries and limiting exposure to people who cause stress in your life, be sure to make space on your calendar for those who bring you joy. Try setting a standing weekly date night with your partner, scheduling a monthly outing with your friend group, or cooking a slow meal with family on weekends. 

      6. Fill Your Cup

      While relationships with others are paramount to our health and happiness, none is more vital than the ones we have with ourselves. In the chaos and exhaustion of burnout, have you been neglecting yourself?

      Take care. According to the University of Minnesota, establishing emotionally nourishing and personally fulfilling habits of self-care can help us to manage our reactions to stress. This can look like practicing gratitude or limiting screen time or news exposure. But it can also look like keeping the promises and commitments we make to ourselves to build self-trust and self-esteem. Studies suggest that the more trust we have in ourselves to take care of our own well-being, the better we will be able to handle stress when it comes our way. 

      Have fun. In addition to prioritizing the relationships that bring you joy, think about the passions, activities, and creative pursuits that energize and replenish you. Or, maybe it’s time to explore something new? Make time for the things that bring you to life. Whether it’s picking up the guitar that’s been collecting dust or starting up a new yoga practice,    

      Seek support. The counsel of a trusted therapist or mental health professional can be invaluable in helping you overcome the emotional toll of burnout. Explore support services like BetterHelp to conveniently connect with a therapist online.   

      7. Stop Burnout Before it Starts

      If you think you may be on the road to burnout, try these helpful resources to monitor your well-being and prevent the burnout beast from taking hold. 

      Keep track. Track your emotional state, engagement, and productivity to gauge your burnout levels. Download an app to help you keep tabs on your well-being, like the Halo Self-care Journal.  

      Own your time. For added support with setting boundaries and staying organized to avoid overwhelm, schedule your days with a calendaring app like Trello. This way, you empower yourself by visualizing what can reasonably be done in a day, allowing you to better own your time and devote it to what matters most. 

      Look after yourself. Stay ahead of your physical wellbeing with free apps like FitOn, where you can explore workouts, mindfulness sessions, and nutritional plans at no cost. 

      Listen up. Learn from the stories of others who have overcome burnout and get real-life tips on how to stay in balance. Check out a podcast, like “Fried, the Burnout Podcast,” for advice from those who have been through the fire and insights on how they beat burnout. 

      The stressors of modern life can feel sweeping and unavoidable. In the face of competing demands on our time and energy, we can easily lose sight of how best to remain steady and engaged. But if we prioritize quality relationships, activities, and practices that nourish and sustain us, we can vanquish burnout to emerge revitalized and empowered. 

      Take good care, and be well. You’ve got this. 


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