7 Keys to Avoid Burnout

Exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, and getting enough sleep are some of the habits you can follow to avoid burnout. We'll show you what other ways you can do it.
7 Keys to Avoid Burnout

Written by Daniela Andarcia

Last update: 08 June, 2021

Burnout is a term that expresses emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that a person can suffer doing to the situations they’re subjected to. Caring for a sick family member, reading disturbing news, or working long hours can lead to burnout. But how can you avoid burnout?

In some cases, it’s difficult to detect, so you may even have it right now and not know it. Identifying the signs of burnout and learning how to prevent it could help you have a more enjoyable life. Discover some keys to avoid burnout.

What is burnout?

Burnout can be avoided.
All workers are susceptible to burnout.

Burnout shouldn’t be confused with ordinary fatigue. The first is considered a condition of severe stress that clouds the perspective of those who suffer from it, and they tend to be more pessimistic and feel hopeless.

Dealing with the stresses and responsibilities of the day can become a total challenge. One of the characteristics of burnout is that it doesn’t disappear if it isn’t treated and this leads to the development of both physical and mental illnesses. Some such examples are depression, diabetes, and heart disease.

Who can get it?

Although anyone who is subjected to constant stress can experience burnout, the professionals most vulnerable to this condition are those who work in health: nurses, doctors, lifeguards, among others.

On the other hand, a study by Frontiers in Psychology states that not only are doctors and business executives prone to developing extreme burnout, but that mothers and fathers can also suffer from it.

Likewise, personal characteristics and the need for control could also lead to burnout, such as being a perfectionist or trying to be number one.

Signs of burnout

You may be experiencing burnout, but this list of symptoms can help you know if you really do have it.

  • Isolation: Feeling overwhelmed is one of the symptoms of burnout, and, as a result, you tend to stop visiting your friends, family, or acquaintances. Little by little you put your social life to one side.
  • Exhaustion: Exhaustion not only involves physical exhaustion, but also emotional exhaustion. Some associated physical symptoms are stomach problems, headache, sleep disturbance, and loss of appetite.
  • Irritability: Losing your patience easily is a sign of exhaustion. If sharing or having conversations with friends, family, or co-workers irritates you, your mind may be telling you that something is wrong. Everyday activities like taking your child to school or getting ready for a meeting can make you feel oppressed.
  • Fantasizing: It’s common for people who put themselves under constant stress, to tend to let their mind drift away to faraway places in order to reduce the tension that accumulates. There are extreme cases where people resort to alcohol, drugs or binge eating to alleviate emotional pain.
  • Frequent illnesses: Long-term stress and exhaustion weaken the immune system, making people more likely to get the flu, colds, and even insomnia. Other associated illnesses are mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

7 keys to avoid burnout

Although it’s almost impossible not to have a dose of daily stress, burnout can be avoided. These tips might help you:

1. Exercise regularly

Exercise has many benefits. Among the most prominent are releasing stress, maintaining good physical condition, and providing an emotional boost. Remember that it isn’t necessary to do hours of training to see the advantages.

Taking moderate exercise, short walks, or a low-impact workout is more than enough to improve your health. There’s scientific evidence that this activity can decrease mortality and treat severe depression.

2. Run a job analysis

Work overload is never a good thing. Having an endless list of activities that you must accomplish during the day is demoralizing, stressful, and leads directly to burnout.

Doing a job analysis will allow you to identify the tasks that are important and those that aren’t and, in addition, you’ll be able to delegate functions that you know are a burden that you cannot fulfill. Also, a timely meeting with your boss about overload could save you many health problems in the future.

3. Eat a balanced diet

Try to create an eating routine that includes omega 3 fatty acids. According to research published in Translational Psychiatry, these acids have beneficial effects on depression. Flaxseed, walnut and fish are some foods rich in omega 3 that could help improve your mood.

If necessary, make an appointment with the dietitian. This expert will help you put together a balanced and adjusted diet for you.

4. Get enough sleep

To avoid burnout it is necessary to sleep well.
A good sleep habit influences various aspects of mental health.

To restore all its functions, the body requires time to rest. Respecting your sleep schedule is the most effective way to release stress and keep your mind clear to face the next day.

Avoiding caffeine consumption before going to bed, leaving electronic devices in another room and going to sleep and waking up at the same time, are some of the recommendations offered by the Sleep Foundation to promote good sleep hygiene.

5. Work with a purpose

It could be time to rediscover a new purpose. If you feel that your work career isn’t satisfying, and then being in a place for so many hours which doesn’t seem to serve a purpose can, in the long run, become a burden that you are forcing yourself to carry.

Plan and analyze what motivates you to do your job in addition to earning a salary. Does it fulfill you? Are you happy with it?

6. Learn to manage stress

Practicing deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, and even keeping a journal detailing what caused you stress in your day can help you release the load. Short-term stress contributes to burnout.

Holding positive thoughts is a good habit that can help you manage mental exhaustion.

7. Ask for help

Asking for help in times of stress is the best option. If you’re someone who has a hard time asking for help, then consider putting together a self-care plan with family and close friends so you can take care of each other.

Burnout goes beyond ordinary fatigue

Burnout is a condition that can have serious consequences for your health and personal development. Your productivity and creativity can drop drastically. This causes anxiety and affects your well-being and relationships with friends, family, and acquaintances to the point of avoiding any social contact.

If you take care of a sick person, are in charge of children, or have to work long working hours, then it’s possible that you’re neglecting your own personal care. So,  make some space for activities that you like doing and which make you feel happy.

Remember that exhaustion can be very difficult to treat. The more you can avoid it, the more beneficial it will be to your health. Complying with an exercise routine, maintaining a balanced diet, identifying which activities cause you the most stress and getting enough sleep are some keys to preventing burnout.

Now, if you feel that your life has signs of burnout, then go to a specialist as soon as possible to prevent this condition from worsening. This will help you find the best tool to face the crisis.

  • Roskam, I., Raes, M. E., & Mikolajczak, M. (2017). Exhausted Parents: Development and Preliminary Validation of the Parental Burnout Inventory. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 163. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00163
  • Belvederi Murri, M., Ekkekakis, P., Magagnoli, M., Zampogna, D., Cattedra, S., Capobianco, L., Serafini, G., Calcagno, P., Zanetidou, S., & Amore, M. (2019). Physical Exercise in Major Depression: Reducing the Mortality Gap While Improving Clinical Outcomes. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 762. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00762
  • Liao, Y., Xie, B., Zhang, H., He, Q., Guo, L., Subramaniapillai, M., Fan, B., Lu, C., & Mclntyer, R. S. (2019). Efficacy of omega-3 PUFAs in depression: A meta-analysis. Translational psychiatry, 9(1), 190. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-019-0515-5
  • Sleep Foundation [Published 2020 Jul 30]. Healthy Sleep Tips. Available from: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/healthy-sleep-tips
  • Salvagioni, D., Melanda, F. N., Mesas, A. E., González, A. D., Gabani, F. L., & Andrade, S. M. (2017). Physical, psychological and occupational consequences of job burnout: A systematic review of prospective studies. PloS one, 12(10), e0185781. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0185781

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