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Experiencing Burnout? Try These Tips

Woman sitting at her laptop with her eyes closed and her hand on her face.

Hannah Larson

Licensed Professional Counselor

Last modified 19 Mar 2024

Published 18 Mar 2024

Coping with Burnout 

Burnout is something we all experience from time to time. We can experience personal, relational, job, parental, and caregiver burnout. 

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when one feels overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet ongoing and constant demands. 

Symptoms of Burnout 

  • Not caring 
  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Feeling numb 
  • Chronic fatigue 
  • Irritability
  • Lack of concentration
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Loss of interest
  • Feeling like your work doesn’t matter

Ways to Reduce the Impact of Burnout

Self-care and self-reflection are critical when we feel the effects of burnout. We can reduce burnout by caring for ourselves and bringing our best selves forward. 

Read through these strategies and pick one you will implement each week. As you master one of the tips, come back and add another. With consistent follow-through, you can start to feel better. 

Allow yourself to unplug from work one day a week completely

To help reduce work burnout, have at least one day a week where you take a break from thinking, responding, checking, and mentally or physically being at work. On this day, allow yourself to focus on other areas of your life or just enjoy the day.

Taking this break can be extra challenging when we have set up the expectation from others that we can be reached and will respond at any moment. If you feel a response is needed, only respond in an emergency. It can also help to send a text or email stating, “I got your message and will respond on Monday.” Then, set yourself a reminder to respond and go on with enjoying your day. 

On your work-free day or days when you find yourself thinking about work, allow yourself to bring your focus to the moment. Remind yourself that you can answer that email or text the next day. 

Taking a physical, emotional, and mental break from work at least one day a week leads to greater creativity, productivity, and problem-solving. 

It can also lead to greater work-life integration and work satisfaction. 

Get enough sleep 

Extensive research shows that getting between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night is one of the top three things you can do for your health. Some people need more rest, and a very small number need fewer than 7 hours. 

Far more people think they can function off of less than 7 hours than is true. Research demonstrates that the best time to be asleep is by 10 pm. Being asleep near or by 10 pm allows your body to follow its natural circadian rhythms. Going to sleep with your natural circadian rhythms improves your health and keeps your hormones more balanced. 

If you are a new parent or a child who struggles with sleep, do your best. If you have a newborn, your sleep will likely be disrupted. Know this is a stage of life, and your child will eventually sleep again. When your child is sleeping through the night, allow yourself to get into better sleep habits. 

One thing you can do to help promote sleep is to wear blue light-blocking glasses after dark. At 9 p.m., start allowing yourself to wind down and be ready for bed. 

Getting enough sleep improves focus, concentration, clarity, and overall health and reduces aging, among other benefits. When you get enough sleep, you will be more productive at work and home. If you are struggling with sleep, check with your doctor about a sleep study. 

The Cadey app offers tips on how to help your child with sleep, sleep routines, and so much more. It is available as part of the Cadey system, which you can request as a benefit from your employer.

Break the stress cycle 

We all experience stress throughout our day. When we have a stressful moment, the stress cycle is activated. When the stress cycle is activated, we get a burst of energy. If we don’t expend this energy through movement during our day, it can build up and cause stress to our bodies and nervous systems. 

Take some time to add movement to your day. 

If you can, set aside time to participate in the exercise you enjoy. If you are in a period of your life when daily exercise is not an option, think about easy ways to add movement to your day. 

Here are some ideas for adding extra movement to your day. If you have any limitations, check with your doctor before starting any new movement program. 

  • Go for a walk while you are on the phone
  • Stand up, do ten jumping jacks, take a deep breath, sit back down 
  • Take a mental break by walking around your work building or your block
  • Take the stairs instead of an elevator
  • Use a standing desk 
  • Stretch or lift weights while watching electronics
  • Dance break: Young kids love dance breaks 
  • Do calf raises while brushing your teeth 
  • After every hour of sitting, get up and move; take this time to get water or take a deep breath
  • Do squats or lunges while waiting for your food to heat in the microwave
  • Use a handbasket at the grocery store instead of a cart 
  • When connecting with a friend, connect over exercise such as a walk
  • Practice balance exercises such as standing on one leg 
  • Pull some weeds as you walk into your house 

Redefine success 

We can experience burnout when we feel our level of effort is not matching the wins or the results we were hoping for that day, week, month, or year. 

To increase job and life satisfaction, redefine your wins. 

Redefine success by acknowledging what has gone well in your day, week, month, or year. 

Often, when we have a goal, we are so focused on the end result that we don’t take time to pause and reflect on what is happening at the moment. Redefine success by acknowledging what has gone well in your day, week, month, or year. Take a moment to acknowledge what has been a success. 

Maybe the project you were working on didn’t turn out as expected, but you gained some valuable insights about what will not work. Celebrate that win. It is just as important to figure out what will work and what will not. 

If you get a compliment from a co-worker, boss, or client, write it down and feel their gratitude. 

Redefining success can also help you ask yourself what is within and outside your control. 

You have control of how you respond to others and the effort and focus you bring to the task. You do not have control over your co-workers, boss, or the organizational system. 

When redefining success, acknowledge any win you have experienced recently and focus on what is within your control. 

Determine what is in your control and what is out of your control

We can become stressed because we are trying to control something that is not within our control.

You may find yourself wasting a lot of time being upset about a change in your company, a co-worker, or someone at a different company affecting your work. Spending a lot of mental energy thinking about how unfair a situation has become only affects your mental health. 

Instead, think about what is within your control and what is outside your control. Focus on those things that are within your control. 

For example, you have control over how you respond, your boundaries, the effort you give, your integrity, and so forth. However, you do not have control over how someone responds to your boundaries, reactions, effort, or integrity. 

If you need to speak up, consider your needs and bring facts to the appropriate person. In work situations, others may not hear you if you speak purely from emotion. While your feelings may be valid, becoming overemotional about a situation often leaves the person listening feeling like the problem belongs to you. 

Instead, calm down, clarify your needs, and bring facts. When you bring facts, you leave your opinion about the situation at the door. It is easier to work from facts than emotion. 

Schedule your decision time

Occasionally, no amount of self-care or reflection is going to heal burnout. In these instances, a change, such as changing teams, needs to be made.

Sometimes, though, we need to stick with a difficult situation. We may need the experience our current project offers us, even with a problematic colleague, before we can ask for a change of team or a promotion. Other times, there may have been a change in leadership or schedule, and you may want to let some time pass to see how things improve. 

In these situations, pick a date and put it in your calendar. Until the date you’ve selected, refrain from considering any changes to your current situation. Instead, concentrate on your work and the strategies outlined in this post. This approach is recommended because we can expend a lot of mental energy and time trying to make a decision. 

For example, if you have a good day, you feel better. However, you might have one negative interaction later in the week and spend the entire day debating your choices. This mental back-and-forth causes exhaustion, depression, and stress in your body. 

Pick a date, and on this date, take time to reflect. When deciding, ask yourself about the facts of your situation, your feelings, and what actions you would like to take to move forward. 

You create the meaning 

Allow yourself to decide the meaning or purpose of your job or life. You get to make it up for yourself.

People spend 100s of dollars, go on long self-discovery trips, and have mid-life crises to find their life’s meaning and purpose. It does not have to be that hard. 

It is not something you find, but instead, something you decide. No matter what you are doing, your job and life have meaning and purpose. 

What purpose would you like to bring to your job? If you are struggling with this question, google the word values. Look at a list of values and pick five that are the most important to you. Ask yourself, “How can I create meaning and purpose by enacting my values.” 

It can be as simple as to smile and say hi to every person you encounter. Yes, it can be that simple. 

You get to decide and enact your life’s meaning and purpose. 


Spend 30 minutes each week connecting with someone you trust. Connection with others improves our mental health and well-being, even for those of you reading who are introverts. 

Connect with someone who fills your cups instead of draining your cup. Think of one or two people you trust and schedule a time to connect. Let it be easy. When you are super busy, schedule a call or Zoom connection if there isn’t time to meet in person. 

Watch your thoughts

This strategy is beneficial regardless of the amount of time you have. 

What you think and the way you talk to yourself will affect how you feel. If you keep thinking, I have no time or no one appreciates me or similar thoughts, your body will become stressed. Negative thinking releases stress hormones, and your body will become more tense. Your mood will decline. 

The next time you feel stressed, pause for a moment. What have you been saying to yourself? 

Keep Practicing These Strategies

Burnout is real and can have long-lasting effects on your health. 

Try these strategies in this blog, and let us know how they help. If you want more wellness techniques around work and family, request Cadey as a benefit from your employer. You’ll have thousands of helpful resources at your fingertips.