Our Latest Blogs

5 Steps to Healing from Burnout

sunflower blossom

If work has left you feeling exhausted, on edge, or disinterested, you may be suffering burnout. Long hours, heightened responsibilities, and a lack of balance between work and home life have become the norm for many Americans following the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving workers feeling drained, pessimistic, and burnt out.

What is burnout?

Burnout is an occupational phenomenon that results from overworking while neglecting personal needs of emotional, mental, and physical health. According to the World Health Organization,1 burnout is characterized by:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativity or cynicism related to one’s job
  • Reduced professional effectiveness

Burnout affects any individual working in a high-stress environment long-term, though some workers, such as nurses and teachers who experienced increased stress during the pandemic, may feel the effects of burnout more intensely.2

There is no official diagnosis for burnout, but its effects are difficult to ignore. Though it may leave us feeling defeated, how we react is crucial. Burnout can provide an excellent opportunity to develop resiliency and look at what is and isn’t working in our lives.

1. Define YOUR burnout

Everyone’s burnout is different. What causes stress in your work and home life is unique to you, and it’s stressing you out for a reason.

Your employer is overloading you with responsibilities, you picked up more shifts than you can handle, or your kids’ daycare schedule is not fitting in with your daily routine.

Becoming self-aware of how you’re distributing your energy is crucial. Journaling is an excellent way to get to the root of the problem. Identify daily stressors and note how they affect your mental and physical being each day.

Pinpointing where the trouble lies is the first step to making a change.

2. Identify which areas of your life feel unfulfilled

Many of us are too quick to neglect ourselves when fulfilling our responsibilities at work and home.

Deemed “the dark side of sacrifice” by the National Library of Medicine,3 burnout is a result of consistently placing the needs of others over our own.

Even when other matters seem more pressing, burnout is proof that the neglected areas of our lives are worth the time and energy to address them. Recognizing where your life lacks fulfillment is the first step to regaining your energy, focus, and overall happiness.

Whether it’s a hobby you’ve let go of, a forgotten goal, or lost time with your partner or family, write these needs down and consider the steps to meet them.

3. Set and maintain boundaries

If you’re too accommodating with work-related requests, you may be setting yourself up for unneeded stress. Boundaries are the invisible lines we draw in the sand to establish our limits at work and home, and a lack of them can quickly lead to burnout.

Boundaries begin with you, so have some compassion for yourself. You can’t put one hundred percent of yourself into everything you do without leaving yourself in the dust! Knowing yourself and your limitations allows you to define your boundaries and regulate stress confidently.

It’s also important to communicate your needs clearly and with intention—this includes saying yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no. This can help build your integrity and assure others that your words accurately represent your thoughts.4 Be sure to plan a response for when your boundaries are crossed. This way, you can be firm yet respectful when it happens.

Setting boundaries may look like limiting the amount of work you take home, making time for family and friends, or prioritizing self-care, such as sleep or hobbies. Boundaries allow you to stick up for yourself and provide you with the time and energy to be you at the end of the workday.

4. Remind yourself of the goal and set a deadline

The effects of burnout can make any goal feel futile after an exhausting day. Burnout can make us pessimistic, and if your “once upon a time” goal has to do with your occupation, this may feel especially defeating.

Healthy goal setting is a good way to achieve happiness by providing direction, keeping you accountable, and restoring your sense of self.5 Goals are the driving force of motivation, and letting yours fall by the wayside can make you question whether your time and effort are worth it. It’s the misdirection of this time and effort that exhausts us and leaves us feeling like we have nothing to show for it.

Ask yourself what you’re working toward, then set small, achievable goals that build the road to accomplishing that larger goal. No one knows you better than you, so it’s crucial to keep healthy expectations of yourself and recognize the circumstances outside of your control.

The key is seeing the results of your hard work, boosting your self-esteem, and turning your exhaustion into pride.

5. Change your scenery

It sounds too simple, right? But it’s true! If your time in the sunshine is slight to non-existent, this may be increasing your susceptibility to burnout.

Many of us spend most of our time indoors. Maybe we keep the lights off and blinds closed at home, no matter the time of day. These behaviors can lower our levels of serotonin, the hormone that regulates mood, leading to low energy, irritability, and tiredness.6

According to the Clay Behavioral Health Center, exposure to sunlight stimulates the body’s production of serotonin. Spending time in bright light also decreases the level of melatonin in the body, a hormone the brain produces in response to darkness.7

Experts recommend 15-20 minutes of sunshine exposure daily,8 so consider making time to step outside, whether for a cup of coffee before work or a walk around your neighborhood before the sun sets. If possible, welcome natural light into your home and workspace, as being indoors doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your exposure to sunlight.9

And, of course, consider your eating habits and exercise regime, as all are necessary for an energized body and happy brain.

Moving forward

While it can be challenging to reawaken your vigor and restore your enthusiasm for your career, know that you are not alone in your journey. Burnout is a reminder that we are human and have limits despite thinking we can handle all that is thrown at us.

The key to healing from burnout is replacing harmful stress with the healthy effort of pursuing that which brings us mental and physical peace and safeguarding it from this point forward.


About the Author: Mackenzie Curry is a professional mental health and wellness copywriter and poet. A graduate from the University of North Florida, Mackenzie specializes in crafting professional and social discourse that is devoted to educating, increasing awareness, and breaking the stigma on mental health. Offline, Mackenzie pursues the creative outlets of poetry and painting.

My website: https://www.consciouscopybykenzie.com/


  1. https://www.who.int/news/item/28-05-2019-burn-out-an-occupational-phenomenon-international-classification-of-diseases
  2.  https://www.apa.org/monitor/2022/01/special-burnout-stress https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279286/
  3.  https://psychcentral.com/blog/tips-for-setting-boundaries-at-work#communication
  4. https://centerstone.org/our-resources/health-wellness/how-setting-goals-can-positively-impact-our-mental-health/
  5.  https://ccbhc.org/a-sunny-disposition-sunlight-and-mental-health/
  6.  https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/melatonin-what-you-need-to-know
  7.  https://ccbhc.org/a-sunny-disposition-sunlight-and-mental-health/
  8.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2077351/

Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/sunflower-during-sunset-33044/

May Is Mental Health Month 2023

"Look Around, Look Within"

May is Mental Health Month, a time to spread public awareness and education about mental health disorders and reflect on the impact of mental illness on individuals and their families.

The theme of this year's Mental Health Month is to take some time to "Look Around, Look Within." The goal this May is to challenge yourself to examine your world and how it can affect your overall mental health – from your neighborhood to genetics, many factors come into play when it comes to mental health.

It is also a time to recognize and commit to changing the racial and economic inequities in our healthcare system, particularly with respect to mental health.

www.rtor.org and Laurel House are committed to the advancement of racial equity and social justice and to making mental health services accessible to all.

The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.

Recommended for You

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

0 thoughts on “5 Steps to Healing from Burnout

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *