MuuvWell Blog

Preventing and Addressing Burnout

June 17, 2024

Burnout can happen to anyone managing stress. It’s often associated with work, or professional burnout, but it exists in other areas as well. Being a caregiver, managing a chronic condition, or coping with any ongoing stressful situation can lead to burnout too. In essence, you’re left feeling like you are pouring from an empty cup. 

If you’re a people-pleaser or more “Type A”, you may be more vulnerable to burnout because you have a tendency to overwork and sacrifice your well-being for the benefit of others.

Burnout doesn’t just go away. When left alone, it can lead to health complications. In the short term, you might feel generally exhausted, have a lowered immune system (you get every cold that’s going around), and you might feel more irritable. In the long run, unaddressed chronic stress leads to heart disease, diabetes, and depression. This is because the stressors that can lead to burnout go unaddressed, and the stress hormones cause damage over time.

So how do you prevent, or work through, feeling “burned out”? 

Set Boundaries

The idea of setting boundaries is really an acceptance that we have finite time, energy, and resources. It’s getting more efficient and honest with what we have, and what we are capable of. Undefined boundaries can increase feelings of burnout. Imagine a hamster running in a hamster-wheel, with no finish line in sight. By building some boundaries around areas that you feel are contributing to your burnout, you start to communicate to others (and yourself) about what you really need to function optimally. 

Setting boundaries at work might include proposing a change in procedure to make more efficient use of your time. At home, you might ask your family to pitch in on specific household duties. It might also mean setting personal boundaries. For example, not checking work email on the weekend, or not watching the news after dinner. It’s up to you to explore what might be contributing to your burnout, and how you can set realistic boundaries to mitigate that stressor. 

Take Care of Yourself

Stress will happen, and not all stress is bad. The first and best ways to set yourself up for success in managing work and life stressors is basic self-care. This is just setting a decent foundation for your health, everyday:

  • Sleep as best you can, as often as possible
  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat real food, most of the time
  • Move your body regularly
  • Connect with the people
  • Get out in nature

We can’t be perfect in all these areas, all the time. However, when a few of those actions line up (like you got a workout in yesterday, slept pretty good, and had a decent breakfast) you are far more likely to be able to cope with and manage the stressors of today.

Talk it Out

If you are feeling burned out, aim to communicate that to the people who matter most. Have an open discussion about how you’re feeling, what might be contributing to the burnout, and what you might need to alleviate that. Maybe it’s simply a few days off. Maybe it’s restructuring a routine at work or at home. Explore boundary opportunities to preserve your energy and capacity to cope with stress in the future. It might take some experimentation to identify what really contributes to your burnout.

As they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup. As you take steps to prevent and address burnout, you can truly recharge your batteries, take better care of yourself, and more fully enjoy life.

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