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Are you on the Road to Burnout? How to Get off that Road and Back into Your Life.

Updated on July 27, 2012

What is Burnout?

Burnout can seem like major depression. They are very connected. One can have depression and feel like they are burnt out on life and feel that there is no point to going on. One can have burnout and feel unable to deal with everyday life and just want to give up. The distinctions and differences fail to matter when all you want to do is get your life back on the right track.

Though burnout is not an official medical condition for which there is a prescribed psychological or emotional treatment, it is a condition that affects many people at some stage in their lives and mental health treatment is often necessary to get yourself out of this emotional downturn.


Many folks attribute their burnout to being job or lifestyle related. People can feel burnout associated from their highly stressful, busy occupations with long hours, low pay and high responsibility that demand a lot of time and energy. Burnout can also be associated with family demands such as taking care of kids or being a caretaker for elderly relatives. The stress of overwhelming financial burdens and unending obligations can also put you on the fast track for burnout. In each case, it is really not the job, your family or stress that is causing the burnout. It is how you are dealing with life’s circumstances and your coping mechanisms and relationship/life patterns.


Awareness is the key to stopping burnout in its tracks. If you are on the fast track to burnout, you will easily recognize these signs:

  • Lack of energy for even the most basic tasks such as getting out of bed, going grocery shopping, returning phone calls or preparing meals.
  • Loss of a sense of identity ~ the things that used to give you a sense of pride and accomplishment like your job, family and home all seem as if they belong to someone else’s life.
  • No motivation. The ideals, values, dreams and hope you once had all seem to fall by the wayside. You no longer have any ambitions, dreams or hope for the future.
  • Disengagement from things and people you use to enjoy. You are no longer interested in talking to friends, making plans or doing anything that has to do with belonging to a community.
  • Never having a good day. Every day is a bad day full of only problems, hopeless situations and no way out of a constant rut of dullness and boredom.
  • Feeling exhausted all the time ~ even after you do nothing all day.
  • Getting sick all the time. Really low immunity, especially all of a sudden, can be a sign of burnout. You call in sick from work all the time and just generally do not feel well.
  • Overreaction to slight change. Any change or unexpected development, even small ones, cause you to lash out at others.

What to do about Burnout?

  • Get some help. Talk to others about how you are feeling. Seek professional help for your depressed mood. Even if they aren’t professionals, other people can provide a sense of support for you as you figure out how to get your life back. Lots of people have been through periods of burnout and talking to them can help.
  • Set boundaries. Learn to say no when you are feeling overwhelmed. A mental health professional can be a great source here to help teach you how to establish boundaries and stick to them.
  • Develop a stress-buster routine. Exercise, develop a hobby, do a deep-breathing exercise, talk a long bath ~ do something to de-stress every single day so that your stress doesn’t build up.
  • Let go. Those most prone to burnout are those who are perfectionists and control freaks who want to try to do everything at a high level all of the time. Mistakes happen, you cannot control other people and there will be bumps in the road so give yourself permission to let go and relax.
  • Take time off for you. Allow yourself to have leisure time. Start with a few hours a week and slowly increase your me time.
  • Get creative. Finding a creative outlet can bring joy back into your life. Even a little spark of interest in a creative activity can slowly pull yourself off of the burnout train.
  • Get some sleep, lots of it.
  • Start a new activity. Sometimes, a fresh start on a new project can distract you from feelings that you are not being productive on your current tasks. Break up your routine and force yourself to try something new.
  • Learn to play.

You can reverse your burnout funk by developing new strategies for dealing with stress and establishing a new paradigm for yourself that is more than just work, obligations and stress. Remember that a balanced life is a good life. With time, these strategies can help you prevent total burnout and get you back to living your life. Good luck.


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    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 5 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      Thankful you got out of that feeling greeneryday. I think planning is a good way to avoid burnout. Thanks for stopping by.

    • greeneryday profile image

      greeneryday 5 years ago from Some tropical country

      I have experience burnout before, there were no motivation whatsoever, it was so distressful, luckily I got out of the situation before too late... anyway this hub is very good reminder for anyone to get more prepare and plan their life to the right way, try to be more organized, try to avoid any sign of burnout before they actually get severe. Thank you for writing this hub, really a good reminder...

    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 5 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      Thanks for the vote up!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      It is a something you must do: take a break and walk away from your stressors in life. If you don't maintain a healthy balance you will burn out and be no good to anyone. Great hub and well written. Voted up!

    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 5 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      I have heard that the "helping" professions have the highest rates of burnout.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Very good info. concerning burnout. I was a victim when i was in nursing, time away was always helpful. Writing is a great release...

    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 5 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      Once you reach burnout, it can take a while to bounce back. I hope I can help people recognize they are headed that way before it happens to them. In this day and age of always being connected to work or obligations via cellphone and the Internet, it is happening more and more that you just can't get away from the pressures of life. We all go to disconnect and chill out once and awhile. Thanks for all the comments and support.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well written and a very accurate hub! I have suffered from burnout before and you captured it beautifully. Great job!

    • LucyLiu12 profile image

      LucyLiu12 5 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Great tips to avoid burnout - sometimes you can't see it 'til you're on the edge. I think I set way to high expectations for myself, and even though I was making a lot of money, I still burned out! Wish I had read your article sooner! Thanks - I'm sure this will help a lot of people.

    • soconfident profile image

      Derrick Bennett 5 years ago

      I agree, if you don't give yourself a break every now and then you will begin to feel discouraged. This has happed to me before.