How to Overcome Burnout After You’ve Burnt Out (2023)

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Evernote • 09/06/2022

How to Overcome Burnout After You’ve Burnt Out (1)

Stress is a natural part of life. Sometimes, though, that stress can overcome us, leading to psychological episodes like breakdowns and burnout. The Mayo Clinic defines job burnout as “a special type of work-related stress—a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.”

While burnout is “not classified as a medical condition,” according to the World Health Organization, plenty of research indicates its adverse effects on your overall health and wellbeing. Wherever the root, you must learn how to overcome burnout before it leads to worse symptoms. So how do you know if you’re experiencing work-related burnout? And what can you do to curb it?

Unpacking the cause

Do not ignore the signs of burnout. If left unaddressed, burnout can lead to a litany of worsened conditions, including excessive stress and fatigue; insomnia; sadness, anger, and irritability; heart disease and high blood pressure; Type 2 Diabetes; and more.

To curb burnout, examine the stressors in your life and identify the root causes. Pinpointing a reason is the first step toward ensuring it doesn’t happen again. But what causes burnout, especially when it comes to work-related stress? Here are some key indicators to look out for:

(Video) Burn Out to Brilliance. Recovery from Chronic Fatigue | Linda Jones | TEDxBirminghamCityUniversity

  • A general lack of control in your life
  • Unclear job expectations
  • Dysfunctional workplace dynamics
  • Extremes of activity
  • A lack of social support

Let’s dive deeper into each of these causes, and see what steps you can take to overcome burnout in the workplace.

Lack of control

When you feel like you can’t influence the decisions affecting your job—including your schedule, workload, and assignments—you may feel a lack of control. ‘Control’ (and its lack) comes in many forms in the workplace; however, a lack of control over your day-to-day tasks, workplace relationships, or career future, in particular, can foment the sort of stress that builds long-term burnout. An eye-opening study from Indiana University discovered that those with high-stress jobs who felt a lack of control were more unhealthy and had shorter life expectancies. So what can you do about it?

Instead of focusing on the things you can’t control, take advantage of the things you can. If you can do something about it, take steps in that direction. If you can’t, accept it for what it is and refocus on the things within your domain.

How to Overcome Burnout After You’ve Burnt Out (2)

Power tip: Organize the things you can control in Tasks and Calendar to run your day more efficiently. Input your workload into Tasks, and sync this to your calendar to manage your workflow. This will provide a bird’s eye view of your work week and month, and you’ll soon see the problem areas and manage them more effectively.

Unclear job expectations

People like direction. So when it’s unclear what your job and authority figures expect, you may feel like the wheels are spinning out underneath. Without clear expectations, you won’t know if you’re doing your job correctly, leading to stress—and eventually burnout.

(Video) Burnout: Symptoms & Strategies

So what can you do when your supervisor doesn’t clearly define your job expectations? Set your own goals and self-expectations instead of waiting for someone else to give you direction. Then, apply those self-critiques to your job, and hold yourself to that standard.

Dysfunctional workplace dynamics

Adults spend a significant percentage of their lives at work. Therefore, workplace dynamics, relationships, and goals become an intrinsic part of their lives. Dysfunction in the workplace directly impacts your life and can be a leading cause of stress and burnout.

Toxicity is contagious. According to one Gallup study, 50% of employees left their jobs because of a toxic boss or manager. Furthermore, toxicity and dysfunction in the workplace increase your risk of clinical depression. So how can you prevent dysfunctional workplace dynamics?

Unfortunately, there’s little you can do to change the toxic traits of others. Instead, focus on how you spend your time around those people. Set limits on how long you, let’s say, spend talking to a serial complainer once they get going. If they’re unwilling to listen to your advice and suggestions, politely excuse yourself from the conversation.

It may also help to take inventory of your daily interactions. Ask yourself: When this person calls or texts me, do I get nervous or excited? Bolster your relationships with the latter, while limiting your time with the former.

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Extremes of activity

Relentless workloads can push you towards burnout, ultimately affecting your performance and wellbeing in and outside the office. On the other hand, monotonous work can also cause burnout, as repetitive and unfulfilling tasks lead to cynicism and disengagement.

Taking steps in your life to improve your overall mental health and wellbeing will help you overcome burnout, no matter what extreme you find yourself on. Regular exercise, eating nutritious meals, and good sleep habits are three key areas well within your control. Remember, focusing on the things you can control is critical in preventing burnout. It may be a crazy month at work, or it may be a slow one. Both extremes are out of your control, and dwelling on them can lead to burnout.

How to Overcome Burnout After You’ve Burnt Out (3)

Power tip: Evernote’s sync and organize functionalities allow you to effectively stay on top of your tasks and deadlines. When used in collaboration with Tasks and Calendar, you can manage your day more efficiently and feel more empowered.

Lack of social support

Several studies consider social support an essential factor in maintaining physical and mental health. A weak social support network can have harmful consequences, while isolation at work and in your personal life are among the leading causes of burnout. When you lack psychological and social support, you’re more likely to withdraw—to disengage—from work. You’re more likely run into to conflict with others, and physical symptoms like headaches and fatigue become all too common. Meanwhile, emotional symptoms like anxiety and depression compound when you don’t take action. Take the necessary steps to bolster your social support network. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help from a therapist. Meanwhile, take time to relax and get away from work. Don’t let work-related stressors prevent you from spending time with friends and family.

What can you do?

Stressors constantly surround us, but focusing on proactivity and maintaining healthy lifestyles is the best solution to burnout. Thankfully, you can take plenty of actionable steps to prevent and overcome burnout.

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  • Take breaks: According to Ron Friedman, the author of “The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace,” you must find regular “opportunities for restocking your mental energy.” In plain terms—take a break.
  • Know the signs: Understanding the signs of burnout is the first step to curing and preventing it. If you’re feeling forgetful, cynical, and fatigued, you may be experiencing burnout.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Regular exercise, proper sleep, and a balanced diet are three key ways to overcome burnout. Their opposites only make the symptoms worse.

Burnout can strike anyone—be aware, and take care of yourself

You can take all the steps in the world to prevent burnout but, chances are it’ll happen eventually. Understanding how to overcome and recover from burnout is just as important as knowing how to try to avoid it. Remember to focus on the things you can control, rather than the things you can’t. Bolster healthy relationships in and outside of work, while limiting your time with toxic people. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or direction, and seek professional help when stress becomes too burdensome.

(Video) I burned out. Here's how I recovered.


How do you continue when burnt out? ›

5 Tips for Managing Burnout When You Can't Just Walk Away
  1. Reframe Your Mindset. Consider the role you're burned out from and remind yourself why you started, Thornton suggests. ...
  2. Make Time for Self-Care. ...
  3. Ask for Help. ...
  4. Maintain Your Social Life. ...
  5. Set Boundaries.
19 Nov 2021

How do you explain burnout in interview? ›

If you decide to fully disclose burnout as a cause, frame it as a strength. For example, if your burnout was due to a values mismatch, explain the steps you've taken to get clear about your values and how the new position is a better fit.

Can you reverse burnout? ›

Burnout doesn't go away on its own; rather, it will get worse unless you address the underlying issues causing it. If you ignore burnout, it will only cause you further harm down the line, so it's important that you begin recovery as soon as possible.

How long does it take to reverse burnout? ›

Once a phase of stress or overwork has turned into burnout, it takes at least 11 weeks to recover from it. For most people, recovery from burnout takes anywhere from a year to several years. An active approach can help shorten this time as much as possible and alleviate common symptoms.

How can I recover from burnout without stopping? ›

Recommendations for dealing with burnout without quitting your job:
  1. Set limits working from home: Don't work after hours, including checking emails.
  2. Take vacation time that's allotted.
  3. Make time for happy hours or lunch with coworkers to connect.
  4. Share when you're struggling and tell employers when you're at your limit.
20 Jan 2022

Is burnout temporary or permanent? ›

Even after making professional and personal changes, the effects of burnout might linger for a lifetime. If you're experiencing some of the signs of burnout, make changes to reduce your levels of stress. And if you're not sure whether or not the stress you're experiencing is normal, talk to a doctor.

Should I tell my boss I feel burned out? ›

Talking to your boss about burnout can benefit your well-being. It is a way to open the door to constructive conversations that can help get you back on track and feel better about work. With support, this may improve your job gratification and overall performance.

What are 3 personality traits that can lead to burnout? ›

Traits and Attitudes That Increase Burnout Risk
  • Perfectionist Tendencies.
  • Pessimism.
  • Excitability.
  • "Type A" Personality.
  • Poor Fit for the Job.
  • Lack of Belief in What You Do.
21 Oct 2020

What kind of person is a burnout? ›

Burnout can take different forms, affecting a person physically, emotionally, and behaviorally. Some characteristics of burnout include: frequent illness; disengagement and detachment; blunted affect; feelings of frustration, helplessness, and hopelessness; and loss of motivation.

What are 3 features of burnout? ›

Burnout is a psychological syndrome emerging as a prolonged response to chronic interpersonal stressors on the job. The three key dimensions of this response are an overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment from the job, and a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.

Can burnout cause permanent damage? ›

The brains of people who are chronically burnt-out show similar damage as people who have experienced trauma. Burnout reduces the connectivity between different parts of the brain which can lead to decreased creativity, working memory and problem solving skills.

What does emotional burnout feel like? ›

Being burned out means feeling empty and mentally exhausted, devoid of motivation, and beyond caring. People experiencing burnout often don't see any hope of positive change in their situations. If excessive stress feels like you're drowning in responsibilities, burnout is a sense of being all dried up.

What does burnout feel like physically? ›

Physical Burnout Symptoms

Chronic stress may be felt physically in terms of having more aches and pains, low energy levels, and changes in appetite. 4 All of these physical signs suggest that you may be experiencing burnout.

Is burnout a mental illness? ›

“Burnout” is now classified as a mental illness caused by unmanaged stress at work. Many lifestyle factors can be adjusted to help reduce the effects of Burnout such as changing diet, effective supplementation and self-care protocols.

How do you know if you are suffering from burnout? ›

Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion.
Common signs of burnout:
  1. Feeling tired or drained most of the time.
  2. Feeling helpless, trapped and/or defeated.
  3. Feeling detached/alone in the world.
  4. Having a cynical/negative outlook.
  5. Self-doubt.
  6. Procrastinating and taking longer to get things done.
  7. Feeling overwhelmed.

Should I take time off for burnout? ›

Should your company do the same? Absolutely, yes. Taking time off helps with work-life balance and means staff will return healthier and more productive, says Blaine Landis, professor of organisational behaviour at the UCL School of Management. “Burnout is dangerous for organisations.

What does employee burnout look like? ›

Emergence of Physical Symptoms

Exhaustion and stress can often manifest themselves as physical symptoms, including panic attacks, chest pains, increased heart rate, nausea, and headaches. Employees may lose their appetite and even lose weight, or they may start to gain weight from using food to cope with their stress.

Who suffers from burnout the most? ›

Who experiences burnout?
  • Women are more likely to suffer from burnout than men at a rate of 32% to 28%.
  • Over half of women in leadership positions say they feel burned out on a consistent basis.
  • Employees are more likely to feel burned out if they're also caring for young children.

Who is most prone to burnout? ›

Several factors can help us understand who might be more predisposed to burning out. Data shows a higher risk factor for people who don't exercise, who are obese, and who are heavy drinkers. Women are more susceptible to burnout, as are specific age brackets.

Who experiences burnout the most? ›

Highest burnout: Physician

One of the risk factors for burnout is working with people. For physicians, this is exacerbated by the fact that those people are sick and maybe even dying. As if this emotional toll isn't bad enough, physicians often work long hours with very little sleep.

What is the average age of burnout? ›

“Throw in a competitive job market and the pressures of social media, and it's no wonder that the research found the average worker experiences burnout aged 32.”

What can burnout lead to? ›

Burnout keeps you from being productive. It reduces your energy, making you feel hopeless, cynical, and resentful. The effects of burnout can hurt your home, work, and social life. Long- term burnout can make you more vulnerable to colds and flu.

Can burnout change your personality? ›

If you're consistently, hopelessly stressed with no relief or reward, it's bound to take a toll. "When that situation persists over time, it can impact your neurological systems, eventually changing how they function and causing you to be naturally less emotionally stable," said Smallfield.

Is burnout a nervous breakdown? ›

Burnout is when a person reaches a state of total mental, physical and emotional exhaustion and it has some similar signs and symptoms to a nervous breakdown. Your doctor can prescribe medicines for many mental health conditions, and refer you to other healthcare professionals, such as psychologists or psychiatrists.

Where is burnout most common? ›

7 Demanding Career Paths With High Burnout Rates
  1. Social work. Social workers typically operate in emotionally stressful environments and often experience secondary traumatic stress. ...
  2. Emergency response. ...
  3. Design. ...
  4. Business development and sales. ...
  5. Retail. ...
  6. Medicine. ...
  7. Law and other careers with large workloads.

Why does burnout take so long to recover from? ›

Burnout can leave its handprint on our brain structure. Our brains can change due to burnout, so after many months of experiencing burnout, we need to grant our brain the appropriate time for healing.

How do you explain gaps in employment due to burnout? ›

Clearly state that your temporary break has fulfilled its purpose and that you can apply what you've learned and experienced to the new job. Work burnout is a very real issue that we should address more openly and frequently.

How do I explain stress leaving my job? ›

It's starting to impact my health, and as such, I must tender my resignation. As you know, this is an extremely high-stress environment. Despite my very best efforts, I am not able to continue with this degree of elevated anxiety any longer. As such, I'm giving you my two weeks notice.

How do you explain you are overworked? ›

How to tell your boss your work is overwhelming
  1. Schedule a meeting with your boss. ...
  2. Prepare what you are going to say. ...
  3. Provide specific examples. ...
  4. Focus on your work experience. ...
  5. Offer thoughtful solutions. ...
  6. Offer to help in smaller ways. ...
  7. Consider your goals. ...
  8. Remain calm.

What do you say in an exit interview for a toxic workplace? ›

Be as Neutral as Possible. Sometimes, it's best to just be neutral in your exit interview. Even if you're leaving because your boss is unbearable to work with, you can give other reasons for your departure. For example, you might want to say that you've gotten another opportunity elsewhere.

Should I quit because of burnout? ›

Sometimes the best thing you can do to de-stress and escape burnout is to simply disconnect. Take some time off from work and get away, even if it's just to your own backyard. But truly disconnect.

What field of work causes the most burnout? ›

Jobs with highest burnout rate
  • Retail and Fast Food Worker.
  • Social Worker.
  • Police Officer.
  • Air Traffic Controller.
  • Emergency Response Worker.
  • Lawyer.
  • Teacher.
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
7 Sept 2022

Is burnout a good reason to leave a job? ›

Is burnout and stress on your list of good reasons to quit a job? If your job has lost its luster and you feel like the long hours, pressure and anxiety aren't worth it anymore; you're not alone. Every day, people quit their jobs due to the emotional exhaustion and chronic stress of demanding roles.

Should I resign because of anxiety? ›

Maybe. If you work in a high-stress job and have a lot of anxiety, there's no doubt that taking some time off or changing to a less stressful career will help your anxiety. If you find yourself asking “should I quit my job because of anxiety?” then it might be time to reevaluate your work situation.

How do you leave a toxic job without burning bridges? ›

5 steps to resigning without burning bridges
  1. Resign face-to-face where possible. “Generally, people find it more respectful for you to resign in person,” she says. ...
  2. Show you're thankful. ...
  3. Follow up in writing. ...
  4. Work hard during your notice period. ...
  5. Continue to support the business after you've left.

Why is it so sad leaving a job? ›

Grief and Loss

Leaving a job is an emotional loss, and should be treated as such, says The New York Times. Even if you're excited to be moving on to greater opportunities, you're still leaving behind a part of your life that likely brought you professional fulfillment and feelings of achievement and accomplishment.

How do you push back when overworked? ›

How to Push Back on the Boss Like a Boss
  1. Have a valid reason. Make sure you have a valid reason why you are saying no rather than just not wanting to do the task being asked of you. ...
  2. Offer an alternative. ...
  3. If it's a workload issue, prove it. ...
  4. Be firm and to the point (but avoid a power struggle!)

Should I tell my boss I don't have enough to do? ›

If you regularly have nothing to do and finish your work early, consider speaking with your manager about it. They may be able to give you additional responsibilities, or you may even be ready for a more advanced position that comes with different tasks.

What are bosses not allowed to do? ›

Not pay you overtime or minimum wage. Promise a job to an unpaid intern. Discriminate against workers. Allow you to work off the clock.

Should I be brutally honest in my exit interview? ›

As in any interview setting, do not lie during your exit interview. However, you may want to carefully word your responses so you do not burn any bridges. The world of work can be small, and you never know when you'll encounter a former colleague in a new job.

How do I detox after leaving a toxic job? ›

After you leave an unhealthy workplace, try these steps to heal:
  1. Take time to recover. ...
  2. Recognize your worth. ...
  3. Review what you learned. ...
  4. Decide who to keep. ...
  5. Decide on a good attitude. ...
  6. Make a plan. ...
  7. Find positive influences and mentors. ...
  8. Maintain your positive attitude.

Are exit interviews a trap? ›

This is why I say exit interviews are a trap. There's no upside, and a lot of downside. The best case scenario (positive change) is highly unlikely, and even if it happens, of no direct value to you. And the worst case scenario is retaliation that could haunt you for years.


1. How to identify signs of burnout
2. If You're Burnt Out - WATCH THIS | by Jay Shetty
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3. Burnout and post-traumatic stress disorder: Dr. Geri Puleo at TEDxSetonHillUniversity
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4. Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski: The cure for burnout (hint: it isn't self-care) | TED
5. How to Recover from Burnout in 3 Steps | Pharmacist Burnout
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6. Burnt Out From Your Sport || How To Overcome Burnout As An Athlete
(Retired College Athletes)
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