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Stress vs. Burnout: 5 Ways You Can Recover From Burnout


Burnout is a vague label we often slap over “feeling stressed.” But, burnout is so much more than that. 

In truth, burnout is the state that teeters on total physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion and collapse. It can affect your physical and mental health,  job performance, personal relationships, and even your finances. 

In this article, we’re going to outline the key signs of burnout, and offer 5 strategies to get you on the road to burnout recovery. 

What is burnout?

Stress is a common and expected part of our everyday lives. 

However, chronic stress can get to a dangerous point where it negatively affects our physical and mental health. Chronic stress can cause heart issues, anxiety, depression, gastrointestinal problems, hair loss, headaches, and even premature aging.

Burnout is an extreme result of chronic stress. Burnout is a point of total physical and emotional exhaustion. No battery power left. 

Signs of burnout:

  • Disengagement and emotional withdrawal
  • Lack of motivation
  • Feeling exhausted physically and mentally 
  • Change in sleep habits 
  • Change in eating habits
  • Feelings of hopelessness, failure, self-doubt, and loneliness
  • Feeling trapped in the current situation 
  • Feelings of deep dissatisfaction with your life and work
  • Consistent cynical outlook 
  • Isolating from others
  • Withdrawing from responsibilities 
  • Escapist substance abuse as a coping mechanism
  • Avoiding work responsibilities, leaving early, or not showing up to work

Stress vs. burnout

While stress and burnout might be similar, there are some key differences to keep in mind.

Someone who is stressed is often overly involved, overly reactive and emotional, hyperactive, urgent, anxious, and is primarily affected physically. 

Someone who is suffering from burnout will show contrasting signs of disengagement, emotionlessness, helplessness, hopelessness, and depression. They are primarily affected emotionally. 

If chronic stress is the Energizer bunny, burnout is the Energizer bunny with a drained battery. 

The mind and body can only take so much stress until it can’t do it anymore and we emotionally shut down and withdraw as a coping mechanism -- that is burnout. 

5 recovery strategies for a hard reset

Today, employers are reporting high levels of employee burnout. This is a common issue especially among those with high-pressure jobs or low reward work. 

Physicians, healthcare workers, and teachers are among the most commonly "burnout". However, burnout can happen to anyone. 

If you’re chronically stressed without any stress management strategies in place -- eventually, the next stop is burnout

If you are showing signs of burnout there are ways to pull yourself out of this and realign. 

The first step is identifying that you’re burnt out and allow yourself the time and grace to recover from it. 

Here are 5 strategies to heal and recover from burnout. 

#1 Identify the burnout and find the source of stress

You’ve got to name the monster. The only way to truly recover is to pinpoint the source of your stress and realize it has caused you emotional and physical pain. This is what puts you on the path of recovering from burnout. 

#2 Create iron-clad boundaries

Now that you know the reason(s) behind your burnout, you need to create boundaries that protect you from overworking. Often, a lack of boundaries is a big contributor to burning out in the first place. 

If for instance, you’ve identified that one-on-one client sessions are burning you out, analyze why that is. Then, create boundaries that can lessen the burden and protect you.  

Time boundaries, emotional boundaries, off-time boundaries, going “over and above” boundaries, personality boundaries.  

Figure this out for yourself, and defend your boundaries like your life depends on it. 

#3 Lean into self-compassion

Often, those who burn out are those who spend all of their time taking care of others. Offering help, love, compassion, care, and expertise. Now that you’ve mastered that, you’ve got to learn how to extend that compassion to yourself. 

Self-compassion can help reframe how you see yourself. Treat yourself with the same kindness and consideration that you’d offer a friend. You need it. 

#4 Prioritize your needs

That “go, go, go” mindset is what got you to the state of burnout. Now, to reframe how you prioritize your time, schedule time for fun, rest, and relaxation. 

If you need to lay on the couch all weekend, do that, no questions asked. 

If you need a 20-minute break in the middle of the workday, turn your phone on to DND and give yourself a reprieve. 

Prioritize what it is that your body and mind are asking for. 

Don’t ignore yourself anymore. Take note of what you need, and then offer it to yourself as a gift. 

#5 Find a healthy stress reliever 

Exercise, massage, acupuncture, kayaking, going out for dinner with friends, yoga, meditation, reading, painting, crafting, cooking -- you name it, there are a lot of ways to turn off your mind and destress. 

Exercise and meditation are proven de-stressors that can be done every day for great relief. 

Find a few other de-stressor activities that feel good to you and do them 2-3 times a week, every week.  


Burnout is real. It’s important to treat burnout as you would any other ailment as it won’t just go away on its own. 

Identify the cause, create boundaries that protect you from overexertion, and unapologetically prioritize your personal needs.

Often what brings us to a state of burnout is chronic stress. And during periods of chronic stress, you begin to ignore your personal needs, boundaries, and desires as the demands on you feel more important. 

Eventually, you lose sight of these important factors, and burnout sets in. Recovery lies in reclaiming your time and practicing radical self-compassion.

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