When hearing the word burnout, we almost immediately link it to the workplace. You can experience burnout as well due to dealing with relationship issues or being a caretaker for a loved one for example. Burnout can be described as the final stage of poorly managed chronic stress.
Having mentioned different causes, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment or recovery plan. However, the first step is always:
Admitting there is a problem and being realistic
Once you acknowledge that you are experiencing burnout and speak to a professional, you are on the right track to start your recovery journey. Different tests can be done to diagnose burnout. Burnout recovery can take long and equal a rollercoaster ride – It took a while to get yourself into the current situation, it will take a while to recover from it.
Understanding the reasons for your burnout and addressing them
Are you lacking boundaries? Is your workload over- or underwhelming? Are you working in an unhealthy environment? Does your relationship feel like an endless cycle you feel stuck in?
Once you figure out what caused your burnout in the first place, it is time to reduce the causes and make changes: talking to your boss about the company culture and support systems, addressing the issues with your partner, seeking counselling to develop boundaries and become more assertive.
Keep in mind, stress at work and in life, in general, is not completely avoidable.
Giving yourself a break and shifting the focus
When experiencing burnout, it is time to take yourself back and have a break from your daily routine. Do what feels good for you. The main shift of focus that needs to happen is from what the world wants and needs from you to what you want and need. Only with recharged batteries, you can provide energy to take control of your work and life responsibilities again.
Reengaging in hobbies can be as beneficial for you during your break as activities that require minimal effort and are purely enjoyable such as napping, watching a movie, or painting.
After your break, you may try and return to your original workplace/partner/commitment. You may realize that there is no going back, and a new environment will be necessary to fully recover and prevent another burnout.
Developing coping strategies and boundaries
Life will throw stressful situations at you going forward. It is important that you develop effective coping strategies during your burnout recovery process – these will serve as tools to deal with upcoming stress in a better way. Asking for support when needed and relying on others, using available tools and technology such as apps to get organized, and learning new skills are examples.
Physical activity reduces the harmful effects of stress, apart from that, after a good run or workout in the gym, you will be able to sleep and rest better.
Two coping strategies that are commonly underestimated are breathing properly when feeling stressed out and saying no.
This goes hand in hand with accepting that you reach your limits at times just like other humans do. Over the past months or even years, you have pushed yourself too far reaching the point of burnout.
Boundaries need to be set both internally and externally during your burnout recovery: “I am switching my phone off at 6 pm” and “Nobody gets access to me outside of my working hours” are examples.
Boundaries will help you create balance. Pause yourself going forward before committing to anything and ask yourself: Is this of value to me? Do I really have the time and energy for it?
Building a support system
By interacting with family and friends, you won’t feel isolated. Burnout recovery partly depends on having a strong support system to protect you from stress and remind you that you are not alone in this when recovery feels unachievable. Your loved ones are there to help you brainstorm solutions in stressful situations.
A counsellor/therapist can offer professional support in identifying what caused your burnout, in exploring possible coping strategies in navigating life challenges going forward, in finding the strength to address the issues with your boss/partner and in focusing on yourself during your recovery.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Franziska Richter is a transcultural counsellor with the Willingness Team, offering counselling sessions to individuals and couples. She is particularly interested in sexuality, relationship issues, trauma and general mental health.