14 Ways to Beat Burnout

Elizabeth Marglin

by | Read time: 4 minutes

You feel exhausted, ineffective, unaccomplished and bored. Maybe you feel like no matter how hard you work, you can never keep up. Or on a deeper level, what you really yearn for is a different life. You wonder if you are in the right place, doing the thing you were meant to do. You wonder: Will I ever feel excited about my life and work again?

Woman Following Tips on How to Avoid Burnout Playing With her Dog in the Park on a Cloudy Day | Vitacost.com/blog

According to the New York Times, “in 1981, the psychologist Christina Maslach, working with several colleagues, set out to create a test to measure occupational burnout. Eventually termed the Maslach Inventory, the scale assessed the risk of burnout by testing subjects along three basic dimensions: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and personal accomplishment.”

To avoid burnout—and to tap into its opposite—resilience, there needs to be a spiritual trifecta in place. This trifecta tracks three essential dimensions: meaning, mastery and autonomy. These dimensions spill over to every area of our lives, encompassing our hearts, minds and bodies. Here are some tips, in collaboration with Harvard Health’s Help Guide, to access the medicine for burnout; intimate contact with your own inner compass and authority.

Emotional health

Create balance

If your job does not fulfill you, look for meaning and satisfaction elsewhere in your life: in your family, friends, hobbies, passion projects or volunteering. Focus on the parts of your life that bring you joy.

Strengthen coworker relationships

Nurturing strong ties in the workplace can help reduce monotony and counter the effects of burnout. A sense of camaraderie, chats, jokes and incidental conversations during the day can help relieve stress from a demanding job, improve your job performance, or simply get you through a rough day.

Call upon your community

Reach out to your partner, family and friends and open up about what’s going on in your life. Don’t feel like you will be a burden: Expressing vulnerability and authentic struggle can actually deepen your connections to your near and dear.

Limit your contact with negative people 

Spending time with negative-minded people who do nothing but complain tends to affect your own mood and outlook. If you have to work with a negative person, try to limit the amount of time you spend together or develop a healthy boundary around how you discuss—and frame—shared tasks.

Follow your purpose

Joining a religious, social, or support group can give you a place to talk to like-minded people about the underlying struggles you face. These kinds of groups can foster a deep sense of kinship and help you feel less alone. 

Find new friends

If you don’t feel your community has the types of nourishing relationships you seek, know that it’s never too late to develop new friendships and expand your social network.

Mental health

Set boundaries
Don’t overextend yourself or take on more than you can handle. Learn the art of saying no gracefully to requests on your time. If you find this difficult, remind yourself that saying “no” allows you to say “yes” to the commitments you want to make.

Take tech breaks
Set a time each day when you completely disconnect. Put away your laptop, turn off your phone and stop checking email.

Invest in your creative side
Creativity is a powerful antidote to burnout. Try something new, start a fun project or resume a favorite hobby. If you don’t know where to turn, follow whatever sparks joy in you and see where it leads. Choose activities that have nothing to do with work or whatever is causing your stress.

Physical Health

Cultivate true relaxation

Mind-body relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the stress response.

Don’t skimp on sleep

Feeling tired can exacerbate the intense feelings that accompany burnout. It’s important to realize that if you’re in a state of burnout, you will need more sleep than usual; it’s part of your body’s healing process. You also will need breaks throughout the day. Partly because making the choice to take them demonstrates to yourself that you have some level of control, even on a micro level.

Shake it up

Even though it may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re burned out, exercise is one of the best remedies for stress and burnout. It’s also a powerful mood booster.

Take time off

If burnout seems inevitable, try to take a complete break from work. Take a few mental health days, go on vacation, use up your sick days or ask for a temporary leave-of-absence. Use the time away to recharge your batteries and figure out how you can transform your work to feel more in alignment with a deeper call of your soul.

Eat whole foods

What you put in your body can have a huge impact on your mood and energy levels throughout the day. Prioritizing a healthy, whole food diet can have an amazing impact on your mood and energy. The suggested treatments for healthy adrenal function are a diet low in sugar, caffeine and junk food.

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