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10 ways to stop feeling so damn burnt out

Updated on March 29, 2008

Are you burnt out? Ready to feel like yourself again?

Everyone reaches that point of extreme exhaustion, feeling overwhelmed, and being overcome by the urge to throw your hands up and say " I GIVE UP". Before you actually give up, try these 10 simple ways to alleviate the numbness of feeling burnt out so you can get back on track and resume your normal life.

Symptoms of emotional burn-out:

Its extremely important to get back on the saddle if you are experiencing any or all of these symptoms.

If life hands you a hand full of lemons like an unmanageable amount of work at your job, a slew of messy relationship problems, your clothes suddenly becoming way too tight, a loss of a loved one, or any other prolonged stressful situation, you are likely to feel burnt out from dealing with too much at once.

Before you get to the point of being burnt out, try to push yourself to be proactive, because burning out can make life much more difficult and cause severe consequences.

Consider this fictional, but common scenario:

A female business executive (We'll call her Linda) has a family that includes two teenage children and a supportive husband. She also loves to exercise, knit, and socialize with her friends. She has also been promising herself that she would volunteer at the Children's Hospital in her spare time. However, because she has an upper management position and makes a fairly large salary she often works far beyond the typical 9-5 shift and puts in more 60+ hour work weeks than she would like to admit. She frequently finds herself squabbling with her husband because she isn't around enough, her children have started acting out, and her friends have stopped calling because they're tired of her always seeming checked out and being in a rush. With everyone dogging on her, Linda feels guilty and pressured, and often resentful because at this point she can't even find 15 minutes a day to take some time for herself.

Linda has started to feel extremely burnt out because every area of her life has now become stressful. This is just one scenario, but I'm sure some of you can relate to how Linda is feeling.

Now that we've covered what it feels like to be burnt out, how it can happen, and what can happen if you let it fester, lets talk about what you ( and people like Linda) can do about it:

1. Practice good time management skills

- Budgeting your time so that you can prioritize what you need to accomplish in a day will help you remain productive... while making your life more balanced. When you have a balance between the major aspects of your life, you feel more stable and in control, and therefore are less likely to be over worked and over tired.

Some good time management skills/tips include:

  • Prioritizing tasks at work ( what really needs to be done today? Make a reasonable to do list)
  • Don't get bogged down by e-mail. Not every new message in your inbox needs to be answered right away
  • Keep a day planner- keep track of your appointments and take time to asses them all. If there are any meetings, or "obligations" that you don't want to attend or don't have to, cross them out.
  • Learn how to say no. The first person you need to worry about is yourself.
  • Don't stay late at work every night of the week. If you MUST stay late on any given day, go home on time the next.
  • Make sure you are making time every week for your family and your friends
  • And last but not least... make appointments with yourself for alone time

2. Establish an exercise routine and eat healthy.

- I know this hint is easier said than done, and we all struggle with keeping our nutrition and fitness in check, but find a time block three days a week where you can get at least 20 minutes of exercise in.

  • If you don't have time for the gym, take a walk on your lunch break. If you are having trouble staying motivated with exercising, drag a pal out to walk with you.
  • Don't kill yourself dieting, or waste time and energy trying to follow fad will only lead you to more stress. Eat in moderation, keep your portion sizes in check, and make smart choices.
  • Some easy, healthy food choices are always: Leafy greens, whole grains, lean proteins, low-fat dairy products, etc.
  • If you feel fatigued often, try eating less starches. Cut out sugars and anything with white flour in it, both are sources of empty calories.
  • If you find that you are making these smart choices, but you want to lose weight, join a program that will help you stay focused on eating a balanced diet. I recommend weight watchers. If you don't have time for the meetings, not to worry, you can join weight watchers online!
  • If you exercise at least three times a week and eat relatively healthy, you will be taking care of yourself, which will make you feel good. Plus, being active is a great way to gain energy and beat stress.

3. Find the kid in you

I don't care how old you are, how professional you are, how much money you have, how stressed out you are, we all have a kid inside of us, so stop being stubborn and let it out to play! This will require you to let go of your inhibitions and for you to not be embarrassed about getting silly.

Have you forgotten how to be a kid?

  • Go to a playground with friends or family and swing.
  • Buy a slinky
  • Play "tickle torture" with family members, or your significant others
  • Have a pillow fight
  • Buy crayons and a coloring book- and stop trying to stay inside the lines!
  • Go to a toy store and check out all the stuff that you remember playing with as a kid, and check out all the new stuff, its pretty cool!
  • Loosen up and laugh!

4. Find an enjoyable activity or hobby that is fun and somewhat mindless, which will help you relax... here are some ideas

  • word searches
  • reading
  • crocheting or knitting
  • fishing
  • watching reality TV
  • watching a good comedy
  • take a bubble bath (don't forget the candles and bath beads)

5. Make peace with yourself: Stop trying to be wonder woman/ superman. Stop trying to make everyone happy. Don't be other peoples doormats. Stop giving yourself a hard time. Just decide that you are going to be happy.

6. Ask for help: Many of us are very independent and pride ourselves in being so. However, standing on your own two feet at all times can be exhausting, overwhelming, and the main ingredient in burn-out stew.

Ask yourself what the biggest source of stress is in your life, and reach out to your resources ( family members, friends, co-workers, strangers, etc.). You might not be comfortable asking for huge favors, but you can at least ask for a hand with simple things ( for example, maybe you should ask someone to help you lug the groceries in, ask a co-worker to help you wrap up a lingering project, get a neighbor to help you rake the lawn, have your kids help you dry the dishes).

Even if someone helps you with something that might seem small, it will help you feel some sense of relief.

7. When you're feeling overwhelmed breath, take breaks/naps often, and try to multi-task and do something enjoyable at the same time. Swamped at work? Put your ipod on while you chip away at those tedious tasks. Been cleaning all day? Take a nap. Getting frustrated trying to patch up a flat tire? Breath and step away for a few minutes.

8. Be aware of your stress capacity Know your limits. Know how much work, relationship stress, family trouble, and personal drama you can handle and do something to eliminate it. This may mean that if you are having an argument with someone you need to come out and say " You know, I've been really stressed out lately, can we take a breather and work this out later?". If you are honest with yourself and other people about burn-out symptoms, those who care will back off and try to support you and help. If you are aware that things are becoming too difficult to handle, you are more likely to take action.

9. Find a sanctuary establish a location/physical place where you feel happy, safe, and calm. Once you've found the spot, spend a little time and money to decorate it and fill it with your favorite things. Is your bedroom your sanctuary? Buy new sheets, frame your favorite photos and hang them on the wall, buy a funky rug. Is your favorite spot the garage? Put a radio out there, and a comfy chair. Maybe your sanctuary is a public place like the library, surround yourself with your favorite novels and find new ones to bring into your life.

10. Establish your essentials and have them with you at all times Again, this goes back to the idea that if you take care of yourself, and pay attention to your needs, you are being proactive in fighting burnout....

Establish your "essentials" by taking note of everything you NEED to get through the day safely and happily and make sure you have these things at all times.

For example, my essentials are some cash, chapstick, a packed lunch, a bottle of water, diet soda, my phone, my ipod, a bottle of Aleve, my medications, makeup, cell phone, and a book to read on the train. I know that if forget any of these things,it puts a damper in my day, which adds to my stress levels. As long as I have all of these things with me throughout the day, I feel a sense of comfort.

Hopefully these tips will help you beat burnt out. But.... there is one last thing, and this is the most important thing you need to do when you get burnt out....

Get a goodnight's sleep (7-10 hours) every night.

Here are some sites for burnt out issues in the news, and for more info:,%202004.html

Books to read if you want to stop feeling so overwhelmed


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    • profile image

      tom 6 years ago

    • profile image

      iMindMap 7 years ago

      I think suggestions 2, 5 and 9 are the most important here. Having a good exercise regime will help fortify you against burnout and by making peace with yourself and being more accepting of who you are, you are less likely to drive yourself into the dirt with overwork.

      I also think that if you can find time to get away from it all either through a quiet vacation or simply meditating then that will help too.

      Some nice suggestions here.


    • profile image

      burned 7 years ago

      the advise is useful.

    • Internet MLM Now profile image

      Internet MLM Now 10 years ago from Oklahoma

      I remember when burn out was the norm where I worked. I was a nurse manager over a cardiac ICU, staffing was low everywhere. All of us in management thought the symptoms you described were "normal" in healthcare. We were wrong. I was getting my masters at the time, working full time, couldn't sleep, worrying about my staff and their critically ill patients, stressed to the max and thought nothing of it really. Then, the hospital laid off 40 of us. Three weeks later, praise God, I was hired as the top nursing executive in an absolutely wonderful, well managed, well staffed, hospital. All of my peers had balanced lives, we were a family of directors who reported to the best CEO I've ever worked with and for. So, my point is like some of your other hubs - do not stay in a stressful killer job. My lay off was a promotion to more money, better friends at work, a wonderful and meaningful job that allowed me to equip nurses to give the best care I've ever seen in nursing. Recognize burn out - it isn't normal. Thanks Lady Luck - you have some really great hubs here.

    • Keti profile image

      Keti 10 years ago from Skopje, Macedonia

      Thanks! This hub was very helpful for me.Keep up the good work. Regards

    • Earl S. Wynn profile image

      Earl S. Wynn 10 years ago from California

      Excellent hub, and some great advice. Haha, I need to work on all the ones in the middle, from about five through about eight, haha.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 10 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Thanks for sharing some good advice. regards Zsuzsy

    • Kat07 profile image

      Kat07 10 years ago from Tampa

      I'll work on these! Thanks!

    • Rob Jundt profile image

      Rob Jundt 10 years ago from Midwest USA

      Really great advice. Most of us have experienced most if not all of the above symptoms. I'll keep this one for reference. -- Actually, I need to do a bunch of these fairly quick. The workplace is a bit slow/stressful right now. Thanks again.

    • virtuallymaggie profile image

      virtuallymaggie 10 years ago

      Great hub. I walked away with a lot of ideas. Thanks!

    • Shirley Anderson profile image

      Shirley Anderson 10 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Excellent article, Lady Luck. It's obvious that you put a lot of work into it.

      Don't let bitter, closed people get you down....the hubbers are behind you 100%.

    • gamergirl profile image

      Kiz 10 years ago from Antioch, TN

      Regardless of the hateful spam left by others for you, I say move beyond it. This was a great read, and you did a lot of hard work on this. Just click the deny button and keep denying them until they go away.

    • profile image

      Grrrr 10 years ago

      i dont believe that was spamming any group, JERK

    • profile image

      Ivan Marsh 10 years ago

      ...and don't forget to spam newsgroups.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 10 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Excellent advice! I'm going to bookmark this to come back again, as I have a tendency to dance close to the burnout edge.