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Protecting Yourself Against Burnout

Protecting Yourself Against Burnout: A Guide by International Performance Psychologist, Dr. Rick Wallace

Prevent Burnout 2

Burnout can happen anytime to anyone, so it’s important to be aware of the signs and take preventative steps to avoid it. I have identified simple strategies for recognizing issues that can lead to burnout and offer methods to deal positively with them.

Burnout is a state that is best described as complete exhaustion. You may feel as if the world is ending, and you’re completely overwhelmed by everything and everyone. Burnout can occur at work or at home. 

Identifying the Cause of Burnout

In order to prevent burnout, it is important to identify its cause. Common causes of burnout include excessive stress, unrealistic expectations, a lack of job satisfaction, an endless task list, and feeling overwhelmed. If any of these are present in your life, it is important to take action to address them.

It is also important to recognize the signs of burnout to address it before it becomes too severe. Common signs of burnout include a lack of motivation, a feeling of being overwhelmed, a feeling of being disconnected from others, and difficulty concentrating.

Preventing Burnout

Once the cause of burnout has been identified, there are steps that can be taken to prevent it. One of the most important steps is to create a healthy work-life balance. This means taking breaks throughout the day and setting aside time for leisure activities. It is also important to create boundaries between work and home life and ensure you are getting enough sleep. Recently I added a mental health day to each week during the work week. It is amazing how we convince ourselves that we have to work all of these hours to be effective. The truth is I have been equally, if not more, efficient since I started taking Tuesdays off from stressful tasks. 

It is also important to practice self-care. This can include activities such as meditation, yoga, or spending time outdoors. Taking the time to nurture yourself can help to reduce stress and prevent burnout.

Techniques to Prevent Burnout

Try these techniques to stop burnout in its tracks:


  1. Find a creative outlet. Creativity is one of the best ways to prevent burnout. 
  • Do you have a creative outlet you can use to make your life easier? Do you love to draw, paint or play the piano? 
  • Finding a creative way to release energy and fight stress is important. 
  1. Find time for yourself. Do you spend all your time working and caring for family or friends? 
  • It’s crucial to find time for yourself in your busy schedule. Carve out some time each day to relax and do something you enjoy. Chores, work, family obligations, and everything else can wait. 
  • One of the main reasons burnout happens is that people keep pushing themselves and don’t take enough breaks to regroup and heal. 
  • Psychologists recommend spending some time away from your to-do list. For example, you may want to eat lunch away from your desk in a more relaxing environment that truly gives you a break. 
  1. Reach out to others. Prevent burnout by talking about your concerns or worries with others. Do you have someone you can trust, so you can share the issues that weigh you down? 
  • Communicating your concerns can help you discover new solutions to your challenges. The support of a friend or loved one can help you avoid burnout. Be open to communicating your feelings and how they impact you. In my practice, communication is key. We live in a society where people are celebrated for overworking themselves for the grind's sake. They become inexorable in their pursuit of their goals. This is an admirable character trait---to a point. When the physical and emotional pressure you place on yourself begins to break you down, you must be willing to step back long enough to recover. I advocate taking a day to yourself each week when you have nothing on your calendar. 
  • Avoiding others during a burnout episode is tempting, but discussing the issues can help you solve them faster. Isolation is rarely a good thing. Humans are social beings, meaning we function better in groups, especially when working toward common goals that benefit the group.
  1. Dig deep into your mind and soul. Look inward. Why are you burning out? What is truly causing the stress in your life? It’s important to look inside instead of just focusing on external issues. 
  • Are you a perfectionist? Are you taking on too much work or home responsibilities? Evaluating your life can lead to crucial burnout solutions. 
  1. Focus on the positive. Burnout can occur because your focus is lost and misdirected to negative emotions and thoughts. 
  • Consider your daily thoughts and feelings. Are you focusing on the negative aspects of every situation? How can you change this so your thoughts are more positive? 
  • You may want to create lists of positive actions and thoughts throughout the day to stay on track. You can keep a notebook of inspirational ideas to help you avoid negativity. 
  • Recognizing negative emotions and what causes them before burnout occurs is important. You may have to set boundaries with people who are creating negativity in your life. You may have to say no more often and reject more work or responsibilities to stay balanced. 
  • By focusing on the positive, you can reconsider your life goals. 

You can prevent burnout by following the advice of leading psychologists and taking time to relax. Put these tips to use each day, and you’ll feel better sooner than you think!

Dealing with Burnout

If you are already feeling the effects of burnout, there are steps that you can take to address it. It is important to take a break from work and to focus on activities that make you feel relaxed and at peace. It is also important to talk to someone about what you are going through and to get help if needed.

It is also important to practice self-compassion. This means being kind to yourself and recognizing that everyone has bad days. By recognizing the signs of burnout and taking steps to prevent it, you can help to ensure that you remain healthy and productive.


Burnout can happen to anyone, so it’s important to be aware of the signs and take preventative steps to avoid it. Identifying the cause of burnout, practicing self-care, and creating a healthy work-life balance are all important ways to prevent burnout. If you already feel the effects of burnout, taking a break and getting help if needed is important. By recognizing the signs of burnout and taking steps to prevent it, you can help to ensure that you remain healthy and productive. Remember, there is nothing wrong with seeking professional help. While perseverance is a sign of toughness, it is also a sign of stubbornness. 

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