Got a symptom but not sure what's causing it? Use our award-winning symptom checker to find out – it's free!

26th March, 20215 min read

6 tips to help you recover from burnout

Medical reviewer:Dr Ann Nainan
Author:Libby Williams
Last reviewed: 24/03/2021
Medically reviewed

All of Healthily's articles undergo medical safety checks to verify that the information is medically safe. View more details in our safety page, or read our editorial policy.

Many of us have jobs that cause us stress and worry from time to time. But if this stress continues at a high level for a long period, it can lead to what’s known as ‘burnout’.

It can be difficult to know how to deal with burnout, especially when you’re in the middle of it. So read on to find out what you can do about it, including 6 tips to help you recover.

What is burnout?

Sometimes, situations and pressures at work can be difficult to deal with and you may feel unable to cope. If this goes on for a long time, it can start to affect your body and eventually cause mental, physical and emotional exhaustion. This is known as ‘burnout’.

What are the signs of burnout?

You may not notice the signs of burnout at first, as they can happen gradually. But they can get worse over time if your stress doesn’t go away.

Key burnout symptoms include:

  • feeling really tired most of the time
  • lacking enthusiasm or motivation
  • feeling detached from life and alone in the world
  • changes in your sleeping and eating habits
  • headaches or aching muscles
  • having a negative, cynical outlook on life
  • lacking any satisfaction or sense of achievement
  • being irritable and taking frustration out on other people

You can find a full list of burnout symptoms here.

How can you recover from burnout?

To recover from burnout, the first thing you need to do is recognise the things that caused you to burn out. Factors involved could include:

  • a heavy workload and work-life imbalance – your job takes all your time and energy
  • unclear expectations – you don’t feel comfortable in your position at work
  • a lack of control – you don’t manage what work you do and the resources you need
  • difficult workplace relationships – you may feel bullied or undermined by colleagues
  • a lack of social support – you don’t have people at work or home to talk to

If you need help understanding the causes of your burnout, you might want to talk to a healthcare professional for advice.

Once you’ve recognised the causes of your burnout, you can take steps to start to recover. Here are 6 things to try…

1. Talk about it

When you’re burnt out, it can be difficult to come up with ways to ease your stress and change things on your own. But talking to people you trust about how you’re feeling can help you to feel supported and less alone. This could be a partner, friend or family member.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to people close to you, you might find it helpful to talk to a therapist. If your job has an employee assistance programme, you may be able to access help through this.

2. Look at your options at work

If you feel able to, it’s a good idea to talk to your manager or supervisor about what you’re going through. Discussing the causes of your burnout with them may lead to making positive changes in your job that will help to give you a better work-life balance.

3. Consider your priorities and set boundaries

When you’re burnt out, it’s important to take time to remember what’s important to you and makes you happy. Chances are you’ve neglected these things because you’ve been so focused on your stress and pressures.

Setting boundaries can be difficult. Remember, saying ‘no’ sometimes will mean you’ll be able to say ‘yes’ to more of the things you want to take part in and give your time to.

4. Be kind to yourself

When you’re burnt out, you may have overwhelming feelings of failure and self-doubt. Try to show yourself some understanding and compassion, in the same way you would a friend. Don’t be too hard on yourself – no one’s perfect and we all need a break sometimes.

5. Focus on self-care

Looking after your body will help you feel better and can help ease some of those burnout symptoms. So try to prioritise healthy eating, exercise and sleep.

Making sure you’re giving enough time to each of these areas can help to boost your happy hormones, keep your immune system strong and build up the energy you need to tackle what you’re going through.

6. Take some time off

If you’re able to, take some time off work to give yourself the time to relax and recuperate. You’ll be able to work on the above suggestions and really take care of your physical and mental wellbeing.

Doing all these things can help to reverse burnout and will also help build your resilience and ability to cope with stress – so you can avoid burnout in the future.

When to get help

If you think you have burnout, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or a therapist. They'll be able to offer professional advice and guidance on steps you can take to recover and get back to your normal life.

Key points

  • burnout causes mental, physical and emotional exhaustion
  • it’s important to work out what caused your burnout
  • there are lots of things you can do to help you recover from burnout
  • you should get help from your doctor or a therapist if you think you have burnout

Did you know, you can use the Healthily app to track your mood? Once you've downloaded the app, go to 'Settings' then 'My trackers' and choose 'Mood’.

Was this article helpful?

We include references at the end of every article, so you know where we get our facts. We only ever take evidence from medically-recognised sources, approved by the UK National Health Service's The Information Standard, or certified by Health On the Net (HON). When we talk about popular health trends or claims, we'll always tell you if there's very little or no evidence to back them up. Our medical team also checks our sources, making sure they're appropriate and that we've interpreted the science correctly.

Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.