Life is full of pressure. We face it at work, at school, at home, and even within our minds. There is pressure to get things done, to be where people expect us to be, to parent well, to help others, and to learn new things. Somehow, we are supposed to do all this and look good while doing it.

Even as we face all these things, we keep going. We keep doing our jobs and taking care of people. We keep pushing forward even as life pushes down on us. It all seems okay until it doesn’t.

The problem with always pushing forward is that we risk burnout. As we handle the challenges and pressures of life that always seem to grow, it is all too easy to stop caring for ourselves. We keep going and going until our bodies and minds simply give out.

What is burnout?

While you may have heard the term before, understanding and recognizing what burnout is in your own life may be unclear. Let’s start with a simple definition:

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. – Smith, Segal, & Robinson

Having stress in life is normal. Some things don’t always go right or that you feel anxious over. You can even have physical effects from stress that impact your life. When unaddressed, stress leads to burnout, which is a more serious condition.

Experiencing burnout is like shutting down. Instead of the strong emotions that stress brings, burnout often numbs emotions. Rather than being over-engaged or hyperactive to solve a problem, burnout results in disengagement and a sense of helplessness. Burnout can exhibit a lack of motivation, exhaustion, and detachment.

Why is burnout a problem?

Burnout isn’t just a problem because it doesn’t feel good. Burnout can affect your life and the lives of those around you. If someone experiences burnout, they can neglect the people in their care, important relationships, and work responsibilities. Doing this can have severe effects on your life.

If you are burned out and cannot handle the daily tasks in your home, you and your family may struggle with simple needs like meals and clean clothes. Your children may struggle in school because you cannot get them there on time or help with their homework. Because you are detached, you may not even recognize these issues.

You can also experience issues at work, which can even result in job loss. This has a profound impact on your ability to care for and provide for yourself and your family.

While these are serious considerations, your health is even more important to consider. Your mental health has a profound impact on your physical health. When you experience burnout, your mental health suffers. This can result in a wide array of physical health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

To prevent this, it is essential to understand what burnout looks like and how to prevent it.

Symptoms of burnout.

The symptoms of burnout vary. However, there are key things that you can watch. Common symptoms include the following:

  • Inability to get out of bed in the morning.
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping.
  • Frequent irritability.
  • Inability to focus or be productive.
  • Dislike a job you once enjoyed.
  • Feelings of inadequacy or failure.
  • Isolation or avoiding other people.
  • Unexplained headaches or pain.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Feeling negative or overly critical.
  • Increased anxiety.
  • Feeling numb or uninterested in life.
  • Anger.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Forgetfulness.
  • Indecisiveness.

It is common for everyone to experience some of these things occasionally. When you experience multiple things from this list or you experience these things for more than a few days, you may be suffering from burnout.

If you feel burned out.

Although you may be tempted to push through your feelings of burnout, that can make things worse. Instead, you must pause to address the burnout in your life and find ways to overcome it slowly. Take these three steps to get started:

  1. Recognizing that you may be experiencing burnout. Sometimes this simple step of identifying what is going on can bring a wave of relief.
  2. Make changes to reverse the burnout you are experiencing. This is a process. Unlike the first step where you simply recognize something and feel some relief, reversing the burnout requires time and consistent change. These do not need to be big changes, but they need time to work.
  3. Become more resilient. Once you reverse the burnout in your life, you can start to build resilience to prevent burnout in the future.

If you are experiencing burnout, start by recognizing it. Then, you can slowly move through the other steps.

Ideas for reversing burnout.

Change is a process. The good news is that there are plenty of ways you can make small changes that build upon one another to reverse the feelings associated with burnout. Address these areas to begin feeling better:


This is foundational to your wellness. Think about how to make sleep a priority in your life. Consider starting a short evening routine that settles your mind and body, helping you fall asleep more easily. You may also want to make a list of things you can do if you are struggling to stay asleep. For example, you can listen to white noise or read a Bible verse that calms you.

Physical activity.

When people are burned out, they often lose the motivation to be active. Set a small, easily attainable goal for physical activity each day. This can be as simple as walking to the mailbox or doing ten minutes of gentle stretching. As you begin to feel better you can increase the activity. Science has shown again and again that physical activity is an important component of mental and emotional wellness.


The foods you eat impact more than your physical health. This is not about dieting. Rather, it is choosing to do simple things like drink water or eat fruits or vegetables in place of junk food.

Connect with people.

Because burnout makes you want to disengage, you need to be intentional about connecting with people. Reach out to those closest to you. Even spending a little time each day talking with other people can make a big difference.

Get help.

Everyone needs help in life. When you are feeling burned out, it is important to ask for help with your immediate needs so you can focus on what you need to do to get better.

As you implement these things in little ways, you will begin to see hope for wellness.

How to become more resilient and promote wellness.

When you have worked through some of the issues you faced with burnout, you can begin to build resilience for the future. The unfortunate reality in life is that pressure and stress aren’t going anywhere. You can, however, build your resilience so you can handle life’s stressors without getting burned out.

Possible ways to build resilience include:

  • Learning to ask for help.
  • Setting boundaries with your time.
  • Identifying the priorities in your life and focusing on those before anything else.
  • Spending time with people who will keep you accountable for these things.
  • Prioritizing your sleep, physical activity, and nutrition.
  • Listing things that bring you joy and making time for them.

These are just a few ways you can build your resilience. Just like someone who wants to get stronger muscles, this takes repetition, dedication, and time. Choose things that build your resilience in little ways again and again, and you will soon discover you are stronger.

Discovering help for burnout.

It can be hard to understand what needs to change in your life to overcome burnout. A counselor can help you examine what got you to a place of stress and ultimately burnout. Together, you can work to understand and find strategies to make the necessary changes to prevent experiencing burnout again.

If you would like help, contact our office and one of our counselors will walk alongside you as you overcome burnout and discover wellness.

“Stressed”, Courtesy of Christian Erfurt,, CC0 License; “Blood Pressure”, Courtesy of Mufid Majnun,, CC0 License; “Resting”, Courtesy of Motoki Tonn,, CC0 License; “Girls by the Tulips”, Courtesy of Priscilla Du Preez,, CC0 License


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