Burnout is a state where someone reaches physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion caused by a depletion of the ability to cope with the environment; it occurs when perceived demands outweigh perceived resources.
But burnout is not inevitable. There are several ways to avoid burnout that involve planning, life activities, keeping an optimistic perspective, and faith.
- Set a goal and break it into easily-managed pieces; take small steps to reach each piece .
- Reward yourself as you complete each piece, and when you reach the goal (a reward can be a break, social time, or simply working on a less-demanding task) .
- Tell others in your life what your goals are and enlist their support .
- After you reach your goal, work to maintain your improvements .
- Engage in meaningful leisure activities, including activities you enjoyed in the past and new activities that get you out of a weekly pattern .
- Schedule regular vacations and be intentional in finding time to relax .
- Exercise regularly .
- Prioritize sleep and practice good sleep habits (e.g., going to bed around the same time each night) .
- Eat balanced meals each day .
- Make a routine for grooming (shower, haircuts, laundry) .
Keep an optimistic perspective:
- Balance the reality of a situation—avoid focusing only on the negative .
- Recognize there are multiple contributing factors to your difficulties .
- Focus on the big picture and avoid “all-or-nothing” thinking .
- Think realistically and gather the facts—avoid jumping to conclusions .
- Watch for words like “should,” “must,” or “have to” in your speech and thoughts .
- Get in touch with, and do activities, that help you find meaning and purpose .
- Read spiritual, inspirational, or religious materials .
- Stay involved in your faith community if you have one and discuss spiritual topics with others .
- Attend gatherings and engage in spiritual practices (like prayer) .
- If you are experiencing spiritual struggles, talk to someone you trust, such as a close friend or family member, faith leader, or counselor .
It may be appropriate to seek professional help if: you continue to feel burned out; your reactions worsen over time; these tips cause interference with daily behavior at work, home, or between other relationships. Professional help can come from a primary care physician, a mental health provider, or faith leaders.