How To Recover From Burnout and Regain Motivation

how to recover from burnout
Unsplash/ Rafael Cisneros Méndez

Do you want to know how to recover from burnout while working? First, you need to be sure that’s what it is and nothing more (requiring you to seek professional help).

Burnout is a state in which you are emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted as a result of prolonged and excessive stress. Burnout has been ​​loosely described as “chronic work stress”.

It usually happens when you are overwhelmed, emotionally drained/exhausted, and just unable to meet daily demands, especially at work. It can present both physical and emotional symptoms. 

The stress that contributes to burnout can be primarily attributed to your job, but stress from your overall lifestyle can also contribute to this stress.

When you are burned out, you feel drained, empty, constantly tired and unable to cope with otherwise “simple things”. Sometimes you may even lack the energy to complete tasks. It can cause physical symptoms like headaches and stomachaches.

It can also be accompanied by a wide range of mental and physical health symptoms. Burnout, if left untreated, can make it difficult for a person to function well in their daily life. Burnout can take a serious toll on your quality of life.

“There’s no question that we’re at greater risk of burnout today than we were 10 years ago,” Ron Friedman, author of The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace, has been quoted several times. He’s correct!

People who have experienced this have similarly described the feeling as being lethargic, then extremely stressed, and finally depleted. You should know that it is best to look out for a way to overcome burnout while staying motivated.

First, make sure it is burnout. 

While it’s not (yet) an official medical diagnosis, If you’re consistently tired but still feel productive, it’s most likely burnout. If you become cynical at work, alienated from work activities, lack the energy to get work done, exhausted, reduced performance, and more, then you need to address it. But first, you want to make sure it’s not a sign of something else that requires professional assistance.

Once you’re sure it’s time to take on how to recover from burnout, then you can try these…

Identify your stressors.

Firstly, try paying attention to situations, incidents, or even people that trigger stress and avoid them as much as possible.

Knowing your stress triggers will help you avoid or reduce your interactions with them. It may be setting work boundaries, saying no to unscheduled meetings, etc.

Turn off your devices.

Limit your use of digital devices after work hours. Set limits on your use of digital devices during non-work hours. Switch off your laptop, iPad, and DND your smartphone/put it away when you get home so you’re not tempted to pick it up to tend to work or even mindlessly scroll away on social media.

Turn off all notifications too.

Turn off work tools’ (Slack, for instance) notifications. I currently receive notifications only during my official work hours, and that’s greatly helped me. It’s definitely something you should try too.

Only check work messages during normal working hours. The truth is that sometimes these things can wait till tomorrow. This boundary is necessary as it helps you compartmentalize, and it’s a good way to start.

Take breaks.

Take breaks between tasks, and when you do, don’t attend to anything work-related. These breaks may just be your lunch break where you dedicate this time to thoroughly zoning off and enjoying your meal.

Take a vacation

Take time off if you feel you need more time away—most of the time, you probably do—and when you do, spend all of your downtime doing something that interests you. Make sure emails are set to out of the office and do not check them.

When taking this time away, do not check in on work or even colleagues that may remind you of work or what’s happening in your absence.

Exercise and a healthy diet are essential.

A regular exercise routine and a healthy diet will help.

Moving your body relieves stress and produces endorphins (a feel-good hormone). If you are too tired to leave the house, you can try virtual workouts like yoga to help relieve stress…

Eat healthily as well. Increase the quantity of greens and vegetables in your meal. Eating healthily can help boost your immunity while also reducing stress and fatigue. Ultimately, practise mindfulness by “listening to your mind and body” and doing what you think is best for it.

I touched on even more simple ways to avoid burnout here. Most importantly, if these don’t help and you still feel this way, please talk to a mental health professional.

Apathy and exhaustion should not be mistaken for a temporary case of burnout; if you constantly feel ineffective, it may be time to seek out new experiences.