How to Halt Burnout in Its Tracks

If you feel overwhelmed, stuck, exhausted, and out of touch with yourself and those closest to you, it’s possible you’re experiencing burnout. If you don’t deal with it right away, it’s likely to get worse.

But there are some specific action steps you can take to alleviate your situation. We’re here to tell you about them.

What is Burnout?

According to, “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. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.”

Over time, burnout stifles productivity and puts a strain on your energy. It ultimately leaves you feeling helpless and hopeless.

Although it normally starts with your job or career, the negative effects of burnout can often spill over into other areas of your life, including health and relationships. Psychologists Gail North and Herbert Freudenberger are two of the leading voices in the study of burnout.

According to their research, burnout typically progresses through 12 distinct stages:

  1. Excessive drive and ambition
  2. Pushing yourself to work harder
  3. Neglecting your own needs
  4. Displacement of conflict
  5. Lack of time for non-work-related needs
  6. Denial
  7. Withdrawal
  8. Behavioral changes
  9. Depersonalization
  10. Inner emptiness or anxiety
  11. Depression
  12. Mental and physical collapse

By the time most people recognize they are undergoing burnout, they’ve reached stage five or more. No matter where you are on this progression, it’s possible to reverse course and save yourself from total collapse.

Four Ways to Prevent Burnout

Burnout doesn’t have to ruin you. Here are four specific ways you can prevent it from overtaking your career (and life).

1. Learn How to Unplug

Strong focus, discipline, and drive can all be good things. But if they are unrelenting and cause you to work 70-, 80-, or 90-hour weeks, you’re going to fall apart (physically and mentally).

One of the keys to preventing burnout is to insist on time away from work. In other words, you need to unplug.

When we say “unplug,” we mean literally unplug from work. Sitting on the sofa and checking your email while watching Netflix doesn’t qualify.

In fact, if you’re on vacation and still making sales calls or catching up on your laptop, you haven’t unplugged. To truly accomplish it, you have to stop working (cold turkey) for an extended period of time.

Generally speaking, this means at least three hours per day (not counting sleep), one full day per week (usually on the weekend), and at least one extended trip (for a minimum of three consecutive days) per quarter.

2. Find Other Ways to Generate Income

If 100 percent of your income is coming from one job or business venture, you’re inevitably going to struggle with burnout. The best way to avoid it is to find other ways to generate money and therefore diversify your income.

This can offer varying outlets for expending your energy without compromising your finances. For example, if your normal job entails working at a desk for 12 hours per day, investing in rental properties could give you a different type of outlet.

It also will enable you to make money passively, and free up time in your schedule to do other things you love.

3. Switch Up Your Work Environment

Something simple you can do is to switch up your work environment. Rather than always work at the same office, try working from home part of the time.

Conversely, if you always work from home, give a few hours a day at a coworking space a try, which could create a nice change of pace. And if your job allows it, traveling while you do some work is a great way to switch up your routine.

4. Take Care of Yourself

Finally, one of the prime ways to fight back against burnout is to take care of yourself. Pay attention to your physical and mental health needs.

Start eating healthier, work out daily (if you don’t already), and drink more water. Cut back on alcohol and caffeine, and spend time meditating, rather than reading the news or scrolling through social media.

Take Charge of Your Life

Burnout is a serious challenge. But just because it’s common in modern society, that doesn’t mean you have to be a victim.

By acknowledging the concern and addressing it proactively, you can avoid burnout and live a happy, healthy, and meaningful life.