5 Key Strategies To Prevent Burnout

Burnout is a term used to describe someone that is feeling tired and mentally exhausted resulting from a buildup of stress. This can come from several different areas in your life, such as school, work, and parenting.

It is a serious problem that affects many people around the world, and it’s important to take action steps to limit the buildup of stress leading to burnout.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out my article, What Is Burnout And How To Identify It At Work Before It’s Too Late, it goes into detail on the process of burning out and what signs to look out for.

If you feel like you’re on your way to burning out from your commitments, there are strategies available that can help prevent it. Here are 5 strategies that you can use to help you avoid burnout.

  1. Locate the source of the stress buildup

It’s important to find what stressors are in your life and where they are coming from. Like any problem you face in life, it’s easier to deal with the stress when you know what’s causing it. For this to work, it’s important to be as specific as possible about what the stress is and where the source of the stress can be found. Without knowing these two things, it’s difficult to address the problem.

As an example, let’s look at the two statements below:

  • “Work is stressing me out, and I don’t think I can take it much longer.”
  • “The added responsibilities on top of my regular duties at work without added support is becoming difficult to manage. Work was fine until my boss asked if I could take on a new project. It’s becoming difficult to stay motivated because I don’t see an end to the extra work I’ve received.”

The more specific and honest with yourself you can be, the more effective you’ll be at addressing the issues to prevent burnout. Once you’re able to identify the source of your stress, you can take steps to address it.

2. Identify your support system and utilize them

Your support system is anyone you can turn to that will listen when you have a problem, and they will help you in addressing the problem. Having a strong support system will give you a safe place to share the stress in your life, and if they’re close to you, they can provide guidance that would best suit you.

It’s important to note that when a person goes down the path to burnout, one of the steps that they could go through is withdrawal from social interaction. If you’re feeling this way, it’s important to seek out your support system.

If you’re not the kind of person that likes to share personal information, such as the things that are causing you stress, your support system can also provide a way to change your environment or engage in social activities. It can be just as beneficial to be doing something you enjoy with others, such as game nights or eating out.

3. Take time for yourself

Not only is it important to have a support system available, but having personal time for the things you enjoy is also important in minimizing the effects of stress leading to burnout.

When work, school, or life gets stressful, and you feel the effects of the stress for any length of time, it’s important to take a step back and dedicate some time for yourself.

The time doesn’t have to be long, but during this time, you should do something you enjoy, such as a hobby or working out.

The reason you want to take time out for yourself is that your brain releases different signals depending on what you’re doing. If you’re constantly stressing about something, then your body is constantly sending the same signals, and over time this can lead to serious health problems, which includes, but is not limited to, burning out.

When you’re doing something you enjoy, your brain releases different signals that enable you to feel happy, relaxed, and overall in a good place. So, when you get back to your commitment, you’ll be in a better position to continue working.

4. Prioritize the important things

There’s a saying:

  • “The straw that broke the camel’s back.”

This can be in reference to a small or minor issue being the final thing that causes a big reaction. As an example, let’s say one day I had a terrible experience starting from the time I woke up. I missed my alarm, sat in traffic to get to work, forgot to eat breakfast, missed a meeting, and I forgot to grab my wallet, so I couldn’t get lunch either.

As I’m sitting at my desk with all of these problems built up inside me, a coworker walks over and asks how my lunch was. Although they meant no harm in the question, it upset me so much that I walk out of the office and go home. With that last action, I miss the rest of my meetings, and I’m responsible for explaining to my boss where I was the next day.

In my example, what my coworker said was meaningful enough to me that I left my other commitments unfinished to go home. However, it shouldn’t have had such an impact that I neglected my other priorities as a response.

It’s important to prioritize the important things in your life so that you can see where your time and energy should be spent. Your priorities should include some form of the following:

  • Work/school success
  • self-care
  • friends/family

It can be in any order that you feel and as specific as necessary, but it’s important to note that a lot of things that can be stressful, you wouldn’t necessarily find on your list. These would be the straws that we want to avoid stressing over in our lives. In my example, what a coworker said, that wasn’t even rude or offensive, was not something that I should have prioritized as important.

When you’re able to prioritize what’s important in your life, you have a clear picture of where your time and energy should be spent, and you’re better able to keep the straws from becoming the reason for your burnout.

5. Find meaning in what you’re doing

I cannot stress this one enough. When you’re feeling down about your work or school, it is important to find meaning in what you’re doing, and keep it at the forefront of your mind. You had your reasons for starting whatever it is that’s causing you stress, but you have to continue to see the value in what you’re doing.

Whether it’s finishing the semester strong so you’re one step closer to graduating, or many people being dependent on successful completion of your project at work, what you’re doing has value. It’s meaningful. You may have to remind yourself every once in a while, just in case you forget.

Without having the value behind what you’re doing, you start to lose the motivation or drive to continue doing it. You may even start developing negative feelings towards it. By staying aware of the meaning behind what you’re doing, you’re better able to keep the motivation for doing it alive.

Even in the most difficult of situations, you can find something meaningful to hold onto so that you can continue forward.

Conclusion

Many people around the world have experienced or will experience burnout in their lives. It’s important to find ways to keep from going down that path for your overall well-being. In this article, we looked at 5 key strategies for helping to prevent burnout:

  1. Locate the source of the stress buildup
  2. Identify your support system and utilize them
  3. Take time for yourself
  4. Prioritize the important things
  5. Find meaning in what you’re doing

Although any one of these strategies can help as an aid against burnout, using a few or all of the strategies together can have a better effect and a higher success rate.

What things do you do to fight against burnout? Let me know!

And, as always, if you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, share, and be on the lookout for more ways to feel empowered and confident in your career and education goals!

What Is Burnout And How To Identify It At Work Before It’s Too Late

Have you ever felt exhausted from work on a regular basis? Does it take a serious pep talk with yourself to get out of bed to continue with the commitments in your life? If so, you may very well be burning out.

Burnout is a term used to describe someone that is feeling tired and mentally exhausted brought about by a buildup of stress. This can come from several different commitments, such as school, work, and parenting. Although the specific reasons for burning out may differ from person to person, there is a simple pattern we can identify to help us better manage it.

Here’s my story:

When I first started teaching, I was so excited to be a positive influence in every single one of my students’ lives. I created great lesson plans, executed them well in class, tutored, held parent meetings, graded papers in a timely manner, and I coached sports.

It was great seeing my students succeed with everything I was a part of. All of these commitments, however, began to take its toll on me. I would come home late after work and coaching, and I would still have to grade papers. I would’ve graded papers during the day, but I left all of my available time open for my students just in case they needed help with something we covered in class.

During the weeks where we have assessments, my students would take advantage of my open hours to meet with me for tutoring. So, I had to put off grading papers until I had other time available, which happened to be either late at night or on the weekends.

At this point, I would spend the week teaching, coaching, and attending meetings, and on the weekends, I would grade papers and plan lessons.

I didn’t really have time for much else after I added in errands that had to get completed over the weekend. A couple weeks of this schedule, and I was exhausted!

I would arrive at school tired, and my energy level teaching wouldn’t be in a place for my students to get excited about the material. If I couldn’t sell what we were learning about as being exciting and interesting, my students would have a hard time getting excited about it.

Once school was over for the day, I would still have my coaching commitments in the evenings. After that, I would be so tired that I would only want to go to bed. The next day I would have to do it all over again until the weekend came along, where I would spend the greater part of both days grading papers and planning lessons.

The stress got so bad for me that I would have to take personal days off work just so I wouldn’t fall too far behind grading papers. Eventually, I lost the motivation to do my best work, and instead opted for ways that I could just get the work done.

From a psychology standpoint, there are 12 accepted steps that lead to burnout. However, within my experience teaching and many others who have experienced feeling burned out, there is a simpler pattern we can identify that makes it easier to remember.

  • New task
  • Stress buildup
  • Continual stress
  • burnout
  1. New Task

When you’re presented with a new task, such as a new job, project, or promotion, the prospects are exciting. You want to do your best, so you take on the challenges associated with the task headfirst and put all of your hard work and effort into it. This is an exciting time. You really want to show that you can do well.

2. Stress buildup

Over time, the stress from that task can build up. This can result from your need to work harder in the task as your responsibilities increase. It can also come from neglecting your own needs in the process.

As an example, if you’re in the middle of a semester and all your professors have exams happening on the same week, this would be an event that builds stress for you.

You have to figure out how you’re going to do well in all your classes that week, so you decide to dedicate your free time to studying leading up to the exam week. And that’s all you do. You don’t dedicate any time for yourself or doing anything you enjoy, which can build up your stress levels.

So, at this point, stress will show itself here and there in different forms, but it’s manageable. You may also neglect some things that give you a sense of recharging. An example of something that I find recharging is spending time outside on a nice day. This is an important thing to do if you’re looking for a way to manage stress.

3. Continual stress

Continual stress happens when you find yourself stuck in your task. It may not feel like there’s anything wrong with how you’re feeling because it’s all part of your task. You may feel that if you continue to work hard, maybe there will be light at the end of the tunnel, and the stress will die down.

Even with all these feelings, the one constant is the stress that continues to grow from your task. At this point it may feel like you’re carrying the stress around with you even after you leave your task for the day.

You may also withdraw yourself from other commitments, like spending time with friends and family, so that you can dedicate more time to tackling your task, or the continual stress from your task makes it to where you’re unable to enjoy some of the things you used to do. From your withdrawal, you may start to feel depressed about where you are with your task.

4. Burnout

If we equate the stress buildup to blowing air in a balloon, the burnout stage is where the balloon pops.

This is where you feel exhausted and mentally drained constantly. You question yourself often on whether you should have taken on the task, and you really have to build yourself up to continue doing it. You may even dread having to go back to your task to continue with it.

Burnout can affect your performance in the task, and it can leave you feeling unsatisfied with where you are in life as well as feeling empty inside. It can be a difficult feeling to overcome, especially if you’re committed to the task that caused it.

I loved teaching. It was a rewarding career, but I didn’t manage my commitments or take care of myself well enough to prevent feeling burned out. And once I hit that stage, it took a serious action plan to build myself back up again.

Whether it’s school, work, or parenting, you’ll want to do what it takes to avoid burning out for your social, physical, and emotional well-being, not just for you, but for your friends and family around you as well.

Conclusion

Through this article, my hope is that you have a better understanding of burnout and how to identify the progression to burnout before it’s too late. If you see anyone else going down this path, it would be important to provide support for them as they may not realize it. Because once you’re feeling burned out, it can be difficult to pull yourself out of it.

If you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel like it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, share, and be on the lookout for more ways to feel empowered and confident in your career and education goals!