An individual stands with their hand on their face as if frustrated.

How to Stop Burnout

It takes a lot of mental and physical energy when you or someone you know has had a recent trauma or harmful event has happened to you. Burnout, or extreme exhaustion, can lead to changes in appetite and sleep, stomachaches, headaches, irritability, and frequent illness. The following are some types to help you prevent and lessen burnout.

Awareness of Stress and Negative Thought Patterns

It can be difficult to realize that you are experiencing stress, but by acknowledging it by feeling it effect your body, it can be a good strategy to lower stress. Complete a head to toe body scan in a comfortable position, looking for any feeling any sensations of tingling, temperature, discomfort, pain, tightness, etc. Some common signs of stress in the body is a tight jaw, sore neck and back, and tension in breathing. Once you can name the tension in your body, it is easier to relax it (sometimes it can be helpful to add tightness to the area already experiencing tension to then feel what it is like to fully relax).

In addition to body reactions, look towards your thoughts as well it see if negative thoughts have automatically kicked in. If you didn’t do well with an exam or missed an appointment, sometimes we naturally say to ourselves “I’m not good enough.” If we catch ourselves saying that, then say to yourself “Wait a minute. Is this true? Is this thought contributing to my stress?” If the answer is yes, you may want to ask yourself “What can I say that’s actually more accurate and is maybe a little more compassionate towards myself?” By stopping an onslaught of negative thoughts, we can help stop the escalation of stress.

Ask for Help

It can be helpful to talk to friends, family, and professionals when you are starting to feel or currently feeling burnout. Perhaps you want to meet with friends to ignore the situation and just find joy in a relationship. It can also be helpful to talk to others about the situation and get their advice or perspective. While their can be pride, if you are needing particular help, it does not hurt to ask. Things that might be useful while you are experiencing burnout might be having an accountability buddy for self-care, asking for pre-made dinners, or requesting a friend to go for a hike.

Go for a Walk

Science has proven how much both good exercise and nature is for individuals, especially when they are stressed or depressed. While it can be difficult to get in the mind set of high-intensity exercise, it can be helpful to start with a 5 or 10 minute walk outside. Even if you lived in a crowded city, even things like seeing a dandelion growing from a sidewalk was enough for people to feel better.

Say No

For many of us, especially when we are trying to again new experiences in life and work, it can be hard to say no to opportunities. By accepting more work, unpaid work, meeting up with friends or family when you are already overwhelmed, these things can fill up your time and make you feel more burnout. You do not need to explain yourself when you say no, and in fact sometimes making up excuses can make things worse. You can simply say “no thank you.” It might be easier to decline small things at first, and then build up to larger events. Distinguish in your mind what you want to do, and what you think you should do, and stick to those boundaries.

Have Creative Outlets and Hobbies

Learning new hobbies and having a creative outlet has shown that it helps improve and maintain a person’s overall well-being. A creative outlet can also help express the feelings and emotions that are occurring due to the burnout. If you don’t have a hobby that currently interests you, trying something new, with websites like YouTube and Coursera are free ways to learn new skills.


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