Burnout Recovery: Signs, Symptoms, and the Strategies to Overcome Burnout

Amber Murphy

Every single individual on the planet goes through struggles in life, and some more than others. These struggles may occur through an extremely physically and emotionally demanding lifestyle, mental health issues and the other stresses life throws our way. School, work, and family can all drain us to the point where we reach burnout. Thus, understanding burnout recovery and how to prevent reaching this breaking point is extremely important.

Regardless of how often an individual goes through these sorts of struggles, it’s how they handle those struggles that counts. This is because how issues are handled typically determines whether they pass or continue to put physical and emotional stress onto an individual. Without proper recovery, burnout will persist being an issue. 

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What is burnout?

Burnout is used to describe the state of a person who is physically and emotionally exhausted. This state often occurs when one overexerts themselves mentally and physically with their work or responsibilities. This very detrimental bodily state can occur for a wide array of reasons and can lead to numerous health conditions if left untreated. In some cases, it can even feel like your life is falling apart.

Some of the common symptoms or signs of burnout are:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in work or school
  • Cynicism or detachment from work or school
  • Confusion or questioning purpose of work or achievements
  • Irritability

To help you overcome burnout, we’ll be focusing primarily on burnout recovery and the strategies you can implement into your life to further help eliminate this condition and prevent it from occurring again or altogether.

Man experiencing burnout

What causes burnout?

As stated earlier, burnout is used to describe the state of someone who is overly exhausted, physically and mentally. Narrowing down the root cause can be tricky as there are many reasons as to why this happens to people

We do know that burnout typically occurs when an individual pushes their body past its physical and emotional boundaries. Whether intentional or accidental, everyone’s body and brain has a limit, and consistent stresses placed on the mind and body can cause conditions like this to arise.

Some examples that might lead to burnout might include working seriously long hours at work, whilst enduring chronic mental health issues. It can also be caused by a lack of nutrition and sleep combined with consistent physical activity daily.

Other examples might include taking care of kids. A rather large majority of inexperienced parents end up going through burnout during the children’s first few years of birth. The constant attention required to take care of their newborn combined with a lack of sleep and nutrition can often have the parents feeling burnt out.

In some cases, burnout isn’t caused by overworking but rather a loss of interest in the work. Feeling uninspired or uninterested in your work can lead to feelings of burnout when they’re not addressed and you work despite these feelings. With cases like this, burnout recovery can be a bit more complex since it’s not an entirely an issue of exhaustion.

Burnout can be caused by a variety of reasons that pinpointing the source can be difficult. However, factors that lead to increased and consistent stress levels both physically and mentally can usually be blamed for the development of this condition.

Type A personality people are usually more prone to burnout. People working in high pressure environments or that manage tremendous responsibilities are also more susceptible to burnout.

How to recover from burnout

Let’s start this section by declaring that anyone can recover from this condition, although it may take time. There are numerous strategies you can implement in your life to further help reduce or eliminate burnout.

Due to the wide array of potential reasons for this possibly occurring, this section will be covering the main factors that could be indirectly affecting your chances of developing this condition, which you should therefore prioritize. The strategies we suggest in this section should be applied daily and though it may take time, signs of improvement should follow.

Always seek the help of a professional first if your condition is severe or it’s significantly affecting your life. Treat everything else below as a supplement to getting professional treatment and help. 

Someone practicing burnout recovery by taking a break and reading

Rest and take breaks more often and for longer periods of time

Without a doubt the most important strategy on this list is rest. Ultimately, this is why most people burnout: they either don’t get enough rest or they don’t rest long enough. A chronic lack of sleep combined with everyday life is alone enough to cause this condition to arise in some people.

You’d be surprised by the number of tasks performed by the brain during sleep. The brain is just as busy during sleep as it is during the day, the only difference is the different areas of the brain being utilized. This is primarily because the brain performs duties during sleep that simply cannot be done awake, hence the importance of sleep.

During sleep, the brain works on the repair and growth of every organ and tissue that’s broken down during the day. This damage that occurs throughout the day will continue to build up in the absence of sleep.

Not only will the body fail to keep up with its functions, but the build-up of adenosine in the brain will continue to cause fatigue which will only get worse until enough sleep is achieved.

Adenosine is the chemical responsible for feelings of tiredness. As the day goes by, adenosine builds up. The more of this chemical present, the more fatigued you will feel. When your body is asleep, the brain breaks down and eliminates adenosine causing an increase in energy and alertness when you wake up from sleep.

At this point you might be thinking, what does any of this have to do with being burnt out? As stated earlier, the condition burnout is typically caused by chronic mental and physical stress. As we now know, a chronic lack of sleep can contribute to both of these aspects, hence the importance of sleep.

Ensure you’re getting those 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Put together a night time routine that creates the proper conditions for a restful night’s sleep.

Don’t forget vacations

Burnout recovery is about more than just sleep. Don’t forget to take those lunch breaks. Don’t forget to use up all your vacation days.

And when you’re taking a break or on vacation, actually take that break or go on vacation. Leave the work phone behind. Stop checking email. Sink into this time you set for yourself to forget about the stresses and responsibilities of life. 

Assisting burnout recovery through proper nutrition

Ensure a balanced diet is maintained

Like sleep, a lack of nutrients consumed through food and drinks can cause the body to suffer in ways you probably didn’t know.  Vitamins and minerals found in nutrient-dense food sources not only keep our energy levels optimized and our skin looking great, but our mental health will continue to stay on top through a perfect diet.

Poor nutrition can lead to a wide array of issues such as lowered energy levels, poor sleep quality and lowered mood. You have to perceive your body as a very complex car that needs numerous different fuel sources to run.

Every single involuntary and voluntary action is fueled by the calories we intake through food and optimizing every nutrient requirement assists the body in maintaining its composure.

Going back to the list of negative health effects relating to poor nutrition, it’s easy to understand why poor nutrition could alone lead to the development of burnout but keep in mind, poor nutrition affects the body much greater and in more ways than listed above.

To further help combat burnout and assist with burnout recovery, try to ensure a balanced diet is consumed daily. This means consuming a very broad spectrum of nutrients to further help assist the body with growth and repair.

Self care through a meditation practice

Take time for yourself and practice self care

Rest and relaxation is important but it’s also important what you do during your down time and time away from work or responsibilities. That’s why practicing a little self care now and then is so important.

Whether it’s a warm bath, a guided meditation practice, or a massage, do the things that give yourself a little pleasure. Indulge a little.

The reason you go to the point of burnout is likely because you’re taking your work and responsibilities too seriously. Sometimes it’s good to just let go.

We get it, the weight of the world is on your shoulders and if you don’t do it, nobody else will and it’ll be the end of the world. And who will handle this if you don’t, right? Well, how well will you be able to handle this responsibility if you’re burnt out? How well will you handle this weight if you’re miserable and never take care or even pamper yourself?

Put the oxygen mask on yourself first before assisting others with theirs. 

Tackle the root cause for your burnout

Easier said than done as locating the root cause itself may take some time, especially if there are more than one. Regardless, try to pinpoint precisely what you believe to be the main source/sources of your burnout. The best burnout recovery is to never reach burnout.

By doing this, you not only allow yourself to be able to eliminate this issue but you can ensure that this never occurs again by avoiding the very factors that caused this.

Let’s assume you’ve located the root cause and this appears to be due to being overworked and malnourished. You can effectively tackle this by taking some time off work to recuperate. This is usually a recommended option, this can also be combined with a consistently utilized meal plan.

Let’s imagine the root cause is chronic mental stress and a lack of sleep. In this case, you should opt to work on eliminating the factors that are causing your stress in the first place. By doing this you half the equation that is causing your burnout which will, in turn, lower your feelings of burnout entirely.

As stated numerous times, there could be millions of reasons why this is occurring. If this is the case, locating and eliminating the root cause should be your priority alongside maintaining a healthy diet and optimizing your sleep.

To further help you figure out the cause for your burnout, try to closely observe all aspects of your life. This might include your diet, sleep, everyday mood, work-life and home life. Do any of these seem off to you? Do you believe one of these aspects could be an underlying factor? The sooner you figure out the reasoning behind your condition, the sooner you can eliminate your issue.

The bottom line

You’d be surprised how common this condition is and it’s hardly surprising, as the years go by, the world around us is becoming increasingly more physically and emotionally demanding, this in turn only heightens our very chances of becoming burnt out.

Regardless of how common this issue might be, it’s still very serious and if left untreated can lead to numerous other physical and mental health conditions to arise. The combination of being burnt out combined with other issues can lead to failures in relationships, marriages, relationships with our families and can even greatly affect work life.

Try to keep in mind that everyone is different and what burns you out, might not burn someone else out. Listen to your body and if you begin to feel burnt out, do not resist the urge to seek help as worsening of this condition will only make things worse. Burnout recovery is also important if it gets to that point.

With that being said, the tactics listed above are a great and reliable way to further help reduce and or eliminate any feelings of burnout and I’m confident that if you approach all three strategies and implement them daily, you will notice results shortly after.

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