This is a very simple plan for noticing your personal warning signs of burnout and creating a plan for preventing bigger issues. 

Your Early Warning Signs 

Write your own list of your personal signs that you're not taking care of yourself. Here's my list to kickstart your thinking:

- baking and accidentally leaving out ingredients.
- pain in my wrists from the computer.
- not putting client payments into my spreadsheet at the end of the day. Putting it off till the next day when it only takes a minute.
- leaving it too long between times getting my hair colored.
- almost running out of petrol rather than keeping my tank at least half full like I usually do.

Tip: Your warning signs should be framed in a way that's as objective as possible. If someone was looking in on your life from outside, they should be able to identify if the things on your list are occuring or not.

What You're Going To Do

The next step is deciding what you're going to do if you notice the signs you've identifed. Here's my list for you to use as a sample. It’s all pretty basic.

- I read some fiction rather than non fiction.
- I take a short break from learning new things and doing extra work like writing blog posts or website maintenance.
- I catch up on sleep.
- I do some physical maintenance.                                                                                               - I make sure I get some extra hugs.                                                                                            - I make sure I chill out when I have a few spare minutes at work rather than squeezing in a little bit of reading or small jobs. I take extra care to finish appointments on time so I can have a few minutes between clients to reset my brain.

What Could Get in the Way?

The last step is to think about what could get in the way of implementing your planned restorative strategies, and deciding what you will do if those if those issues arise.

For example, if you plan to read some fiction, you might not have time to research what book you might like to read.

What could you do to overcome this problem? Keep it simple e.g., you could borrow a book from your Mom or ask your friend Jane for a book suggestion.


- Revise your plan every 6 months.

- Keep it simple. When you think you've come up with a simple plan, look for ways to make it even simpler.

This article is adapted from one about preventing burnout that first appeared on

Subscribe to Dr Alice Boyes' articles

You can get an email alert whenever Dr Alice Boyes writes a new blog article - Subscribe.

You can read my prior articles for Psychology Today here.

Alice's Twitter @DrAliceBoyes 

You are reading

In Practice

5 Tips for Coping with Post-Election Shock and Panic

How to deal with feelings of depression and anxiety about the election results.

7 Effective Ways to Ask for Help (and Get It)

1. Make it clear that you've already tried to help yourself.

11 Tips for Reducing Holiday Travel Stress

Say hello to calmer travel days this holiday season.