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Ainsley Lawrence

Bouncing Back: Strategies for Preventing Burnout Relapse

Woman with curly black hair sits at a desk with papers and a laptop. She has a exasperated look on her face and is leaning her head on her hand.

Image Source: Pexels.com

It finally happened: after years of dealing with the relentless burden of long work hours, endless housework, and personal stressors, burnout has hit – and it hit hard. Every area of your life has been affected, and unfortunately, you’ve had to put a lot on pause to recover. 

Now that you’re past the peak of burnout and returning to your life, it is important to acknowledge what got you to this point of exhaustion and how to prevent stress and responsibilities from engulfing you once more. Together, we’ll review what burnout looks like, exploring some helpful strategies you can employ during your healing process for long-term happiness and mental wellness.

Common Signs of Burnout

Folks who suffer from burnout tend to feel an overbearing sense of exhaustion and mental fatigue. These feelings prevent them from attending to their daily duties and moving forward in their lives and careers, rendering them stagnant and immersed in their feelings of depletion and despair. Often, it can feel as if the world is simply moving much faster and harsher than you can keep up with. Those experiencing burnout will often:

  • Sleep more or less than usual;
  • Experience physical pain, like headaches or stomach troubles;
  • Lose their temper quickly;
  • Experience little to no motivation;
  • Dwell excessively on worries or concerns, especially about work or childcare;
  • Struggle with concentration;
  • Get sick often;
  • Isolate themselves;
  • Perform poorly at work or at tasks they once excelled at.

Thankfully, these symptoms of burnout do not have to last forever. 

Burnout Healing Strategies to Prevent Relapse

To make your way through burnout, you first have to give yourself time to recover, which may involve seeking extra help around the house, taking time off of work, or receiving medical treatment. Once you’ve entered burnout recovery, it is important to use personalized strategies to keep these symptoms from dominating your health and life.

Set Workplace Boundaries

Now is the best time to establish a firm work-life balance. If you have set working hours, do not deviate from them. Remember, your personal life is just as important as your work life, if not more so. Those emails and final touches to your latest project can wait for the next morning. 

Additionally, let your HR manager, supervisors, and coworkers know that you require more support at this time. They will very likely appreciate the honesty, as it gives them the information they need to restructure projects and properly delegate the tasks that they are unable to tackle at the moment. It might also be helpful to consider whether your current work environment fits your mental health needs and if finding a new position may better suit you in the end.

Get Organized

This can feel like yet another task you have to complete, but finding ways to be organized — both in and out of work — can greatly offset any future symptoms of burnout. Creating a daily work schedule by hand will help you remember your to-do list. You can also use an Excel sheet to plan your day, or use Canva to create an aesthetically pleasing one.

Clearing your workspace of excessive clutter and creating zones for certain items will also help you mentally compartmentalize and relax. Items pertaining to your current task and other fixtures that center you (like family photos or small knick-knacks) should be the only things on your desk. Other items, like binders and folders, should be put in drawers or in an area that is within reach, yet out of sight.

Go to Therapy

Therapy can be extremely grounding for individuals suffering from burnout and those in recovery. Having a qualified medical professional there to guide you in the right direction offers you the support you need to face your challenges head-on. Plus, it is quite beneficial to have an objective source in your life that can provide both routine comfort and scientifically backed advice.

Establish a Wellness Routine

A wellness routine can be multi-faceted. Many people construct physical wellness routines that consist of working out, getting monthly massages, or setting up a detailed skincare regimen. Adding a bit of luxury to your daily shower or nightly regimen helps you unwind and feel at peace. It also gives you a chance to go the extra mile for yourself in a way that doesn’t feel stressful or overbearing. Incorporating soothing products full of antioxidants will help combat environmental stressors, helping you look good and feel good each day.

Get Plenty of Rest

Sleep is something that should never be skimped on. When you sleep too little, you decrease your body’s ability to function properly, leading to illnesses and the fatigue that is such a hallmark of burnout. Establish a firm bedtime and stick to it. Avoid scrolling on your phone before bed and try to read a book or diffuse some relaxing essential oils to prepare your mind for rest.

Making Time for Fun

Who said mini-golf wasn’t a crucial activity? Leaving space in your week for leisure activities or hobbies is the perfect way to stop those overwhelming feelings right in their tracks. Learn a new skill, like crocheting, or get the family together for a weekly movie night filled with all the delicious snacks and cozy blankets you can acquire.

Get Comfy

Creating physical comfort for yourself both at home and work is vital for your health. Poor ergonomics creates lasting tension that decreases function and deflates your mood, sending your productivity and health into a downward spiral. It can even be a leading factor in a physical injury which can deepen your burnout symptoms further. 4

To prevent headaches and neck tension, avert your eyes from your computer screen for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes. Purchase an ergonomic chair or be sure to align your desk height so your computer is at eye level, decreasing excessive neck straining. Most importantly, move around. You life shouldn’t be tied to a computer screen, after all.