Strategies to Avoid Burnout

By Kelly Rad, LLMSW

Burnout can happen to anyone. The word “burnout” was initially associated with being overworked and overstressed at work. As a therapist, I’m seeing a lot of clients that are struggling with burnout in various aspects of their lives not just because of work. The pandemic could have had a hand in the increase in burnout that many of us struggle with. The idea of hybrid work may have been appealing at first, but many of us struggled to compartmentalize school, work, and home life. As these tasks blended together, burnout became a more prominent problem for a lot of us. Here are some tips to avoid burnout so that you can be successful in any role, even as the pandemic continues to be unpredictable and everchanging.

1) Set reasonable goals
What are your goals for yourself? Are they realistic? Or are you setting yourself up for failure? Make sure that your goals are doable for your situation. We feel reinforced when we can achieve the goals we set for ourselves.

2) Establish a work-life balance
Have set times to focus on work and set times where you can be present with your family, and friends, or relax alone. Have something big or small to look forward to at the end of your work week to keep you motivated.

3) Find your motivation
Retrain your brain to think about motivation differently. Motivation is not needed to get into action. Complete the action, and the motivation will follow.

4) Don’t fall into the list trap
Excessive list making or having an extended “to do” list leaves us feeling defeated when those things don’t get crossed off. If you’re confident in your problem-solving skills, some things may be able to stay off the list. How much time do you spend making lists? Perhaps that time can be better spent doing the things on the list.

5) Break tasks down into smaller steps
This one speaks for itself. Oftentimes we let things defeat us because they seem too overwhelming. If we think we need 2 hours to paint a room but we can’t find the 2-hour block, we often just don’t do it. Paint one wall a day and it will eventually get done. 1% is still better than 0%!

6) Give yourself some transition time
Jumping from one thing to another can keep us racing throughout the day, which leaves little time for processing. Take advantage of the drive home from work, listen to uplifting music, or a podcast that peaks your fancy. Heck, sit in the driveway for 30 extra seconds and take some deep calming breaths before tackling the stuff that waits for you inside.

7) Embrace your current self and meet yourself where you’re at
A lot of us will judge ourselves and our performance based on our past selves. For instance, you might say “In college, I would pull all-nighters and get so much done!” “Why can’t I get as many things done as I used to?” Why don’t I have the energy or stamina I did a few years ago?” Of course, many things can play a role in this, however, we don’t really look at the answers. We end up judging ourselves and feeling like a failure when we don’t measure up to our own expectations. Take a look at that. Write out your expectations of yourself and really look at them. Are they reasonable? Remember you are human, not a robot. Things happen and you have the ability to bounce back and get back on track.

Look for little moments throughout the day that make you grateful, and learn to respect your journey to where you are now. All of these strategies may not apply to you, but they all have a common theme: be kind to yourself and allow yourself to be human.

Kelly Rad LLMSW is a therapist with Refresh Mental Health and is employed at Oakland Psychological Clinic in Milford, MI. She has worked with clients to increase and achieve mental wellness through integrative treatment modalities. Kelly follows a mental wellness journey of her own and has adopted some of these strategies into her practice to assist clients with their mental wellness.

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