How To Stop Burnout Before It Starts

                                              By Helen Godfrey, MA, NCC, BCC, LPC



How To Stop Burnout Before It Starts.png

Creating the culture of burnout is the opposite of creating a culture of sustainable creativity.” -Arianna Huffington


Burnout can significantly affect your mind and body causing you to suffer from exhaustion, anxiety, and even depression. If you don't make changes, burnout may lead to even more severe health problems such as heart attacks or strokes.


In order to avoid burnout, it's important to get into a habit of recognizing its warning signs so you can stop it before it begins. Even some relatively simple life changes may make it more likely for you to avoid burnout all together.


Here are some tips you can try to keep burnout at bay:


“I wish I could go back and tell myself that not only is there no trade-off between living a well-rounded life and high performance. Performance is actually improved when our lives include time for renewal, wisdom, wonder, and giving. That would have saved me a lot of unnecessary stress, burnout, and exhaustion.”-Arianna Huffington


Analyze Your Workload. It's quite easy to take on too much without realizing that there are only so many hours in the day. If you continue to run on overdrive without giving yourself a break, you're sure to eventually reach burnout. You have two choices when it comes to altering your workload:

First, you can study time management techniques in order to work more efficiently. You'll be able to get more done in less time.

Second, you can drop things off of your workload. This may not be ideal, but it's important for the sake of your health and happiness


“Is your check engine light on?”-Anon

Avoid Exhaustion. When you're in-tune with your body, you can sense when you're reaching a point of exhaustion. As soon as you start to feel this way it's time to stop and make a change. You can book a mini vacation, go on a day trip, or you can spend time at home. The important thing to remember is that you need to leave your sources of stress behind. If this means no access to a cell phone or computer, then so be it!


“If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies.”-Anon

Change Is Good. If you keep reaching a point where you think you'll burnout, then it's time to make a major life change.

  • For example, you may have a job that is causing you to repeatedly burnout despite your best efforts to avoid it. Perhaps it's time to start looking for a more suitable job. Try to figure out if it is the work itself. If you are doing a job that you don’t enjoy, you may find that you are feeling burnt out because you are spending most of your day doing tasks you don’t enjoy. You may love your job but the office politics are interfering with your ability to work effectively and efficiently. Before you throw in the towel ask yourself a couple of questions:
    • i.      Is the issue with your direct supervisor?
    • ii.      If so, have you had a professional conversation with your supervisor discussing your concerns and ideal outcome?
    • iii.      If not, you may want to consider role playing this conversation with someone you trust. Script out what you are going to say. Find someone who is a good sounding board and can play devil’s advocate and push back on your agenda.
    • iv.      Once you have had this conversation, do you see some noticeable improvements? If not, are they deal-breakers?
    • v.      Is the issue with a co-worker?
    • vi.      Is it an annoying habit such as snapping gum or is it something more serious?
    • vii.      Again, going to the person directly and having a conversation can save you both a world of frustration.
  • I highly recommend the Perfect Phrases books because they can help you take the emotion out of emotionally charged conversations. They actually give you phrases to use that can be used as-is or modified for your particular situation.  

“The greatest gift that you can give yourself is a little bit of your own attention.”               

-Anthony J. D’Angelo

Take Breaks. There is a reason why it's mandatory to offer breaks to employees. You need breaks to refresh, rejuvenate, and renew your mind. Grab your phone, find an inspirational podcast and go for a 10-minute walk. Play a Sudoku puzzle, grab a Starbucks or just get away from your source of tension for a few minutes.

“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.” -Anon

Ask For Help. Sometimes we feel so alone with our problems that we forget to ask for help or we are afraid to ask for help, yet that just might be the antidote to our stress. Brene Brown says, “Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.” Talk to your partner, friend, or a personal coach to vent your frustrations to get a fresh perspective.  

“Healthy boundaries are not walls. They are the gates and fences that allow you to enjoy the beauty of your own garden.” -Lydia H. Hall

Learn To Say No. There is a difference between someone who is open and accommodating and someone who says yes to everything. If you tell everyone yes, it's likely that someone will take advantage of you at some point or another. It is up to you to say no. Ask yourself: “Will I feel resentful if I say yes?” Learn that sometimes saying no is in your best interest. You don't need to volunteer for every event or project. Give yourself some time and attention. The payoff of self-care is that it will give you time to feel refreshed and maybe even do more in the long run. As the saying goes, “You can’t do everything at once.”


  • The Hardest Word by Carlin Flora-An article with suggestions of how to say “no” in a nice way that won’t leave you feeling guilty: 

“All time management begins with planning.” -Tom Greening

The Time Factor

 In the end, the most important tip is to listen to what your inner self is telling you. If you've taken on too much, make a list and figure out the most important things that need to get done. The other stuff will have to wait or someone else will have to complete the tasks.


“You’ll always be my friend. You know too much.” -Anon

Take Time To Vent

 If you ever start to panic, take a few breaths or go out for a walk to blow off some steam. Vent your emotions. Vent to friends, yourself, or a journal. Make sure you are venting to someone who is trust worthy and can give you a healthy perspective. Pent up emotions are likely to lead to unwanted burnout.


These are just a few strategies to stop burnout in its tracks and enjoy your life. Take action and implement these tips, today, and you'll soon be free from the crushing pressure of burnout!