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Rising from the Ashes: How to Cope With and Overcome Burnout

Do any of these sound familiar to you?


  • You're in a room and the walls are closing in. The pressure is mounting, the air feels thick, and the exit seems just out of reach.

  • You were a once-bright flame, but are now slowly flickering and fading. What started as a roaring fire of passion and energy is now a weak, struggling ember, barely clinging to life.

  • You're a plant that has been deprived of sunlight and water. Your leaves, once green and thriving, are now wilted and brown. Your stem droops under its own weight, and the soil under you is dry and cracked.

  • You're walking through a dense, heavy fog that obscures everything around you. The path ahead is hidden, and every step feels uncertain and sluggish. You're enveloped in a persistent haze that makes it hard to see clearly, think sharply, or move forward with confidence.

  • You're a sturdy brick wall that has stood the test of time and is now showing signs of severe wear and tear. Your bricks are cracking, pieces are falling off, and the structure is weakening. You were once solid and dependable, but are now breaking down under the pressure, with pieces of yourself falling away bit by bit.


For some people, these descriptions are what burnout feels like. Maybe you've already experienced it, that overwhelming sense of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy. It’s a state that doesn’t just whisper for rest; it screams for a change. But here’s the good news: burnout isn’t the end. It’s a signal – a powerful one – that it’s time to reclaim your energy, purpose, and joy.


A burnt out house with the words, "Burnout – that overwhelming sense of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy. It’s a state that doesn’t just whisper for rest; it screams for a change. But here’s the good news: burnout isn’t the end. It’s a signal – a powerful one – that it’s time to reclaim your energy, purpose, and joy."

How to cope with Burnout: Practical Tips


1. Acknowledge your feelings - Recognize that burnout is real and valid. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed and to need a break. Allow yourself the grace to acknowledge these feelings. There is nothing wrong with you and you are not at fault.


2. Where you can, set boundaries - Take steps to protect your time and energy. It's not always possible to safely set boundaries, so consider your personal situation and figure out where you have agency, then start to practice saying no. If you struggle with feelings of guilt, work on letting go of it. Where possible, reduce time spent on activities or with people that drain your energy. This might include cutting down on social media use or limiting interactions with toxic individuals.


3. Seek support - Connect with others who understand your experiences. Whether it’s a support group, coach, trusted friends, or a mentor, having a network can provide emotional relief, support, and practical advice. If you're suffering from emotional exhaustion because of difficult clients, interpersonal conflicts, or high-pressure environments, consider taking advantage of mental health resources. Therapy can provide a safe space to explore your feelings, identify coping strategies, and develop a plan to overcome burnout.


4. Prioritize self-care - Engage in activities that recharge you. Review your work activities and map which are energy sapping versus energy recharging, then try to balance your days with a little of each, if possible. Step away from work to read a book, take a walk, or engage in a hobby. If available to you, use vacation days, leverage EAP (employee assistance program) resources, or ask for flexible working conditions. Incorporate mindfulness practices into your daily routine. Techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or journaling can help you stay grounded and manage stress more effectively. Remember, self-care isn’t selfish; it’s essential.


5. Reassess your goals - Take a step back and evaluate your goals. Are they realistic? Do they align with your values and passions? Sometimes, burnout stems from pursuing goals that don't serve you. If your stress is being exacerbated by a heavy workload, prioritize projects and tasks based on urgency and importance. Pair up and work with a partner if possible.


6. Advocate for yourself - If it's safe and fits your situation, speak up about your needs, both at work or in other environments. Request accommodations or changes that can help alleviate some of the stressors contributing to your burnout. Advocate for more staffing when needed and if that's not possible, for adjusting metrics, goals, and expectations to accommodate a reasonable workload. If you're feeling a lack of autonomy, disempowered by rigid policies, micromanagement, or a lack of input in decision-making, talk with your leaders and HR. If those attempts fall flat and you don't see alternatives, consider a role, company, or career change.


Burnout is a challenging experience and also a call to action, an invitation to reassess, realign, and rejuvenate. It's not easy, but your journey through burnout can lead you to a place of renewed strength and purpose. Embrace the process, lean on your community, and remember that you have the power to rise from the ashes, more resilient and vibrant than ever before.



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