What is Burnout?

Burnout is a feeling of exhaustion, frustration or overwhelm that happens when stress and toxicity build up over time.
And this is really the key word here, time! It does not happen overnight, or from one week to the other. This is an accumulation. 
It’s when we put so much effort into taking care of everything – without rest, recognition or results – that we drain ourselves of energy and sap our emotional and physical health.

Burnout can happen at your job, in your relationships, when you’re serving as a caretaker, or when you’re faced with any other constant stressor that needs your attention. 

And when it takes every ounce of energy just to make it through another day, you’ll eventually go kaput and feel robbed of your sense of purpose.

It affects E V E R Y part of your life

The symptoms of burnout affect every part of your life – your work, your relationships, your health and your overall outlook on life. With so much emotional buildup, burnout can make you feel disconnected, lost, hopeless or just plain miserable.

Symptoms of Burnout

Burnout can look different for different people. Some people experience more mental and emotional symptoms of burnout. Others have a more physical reaction with their stress and exhaustion. 
Here are a few signs to look out for if you think you’re experiencing burnout:


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Frustration
  • Lack of productivity
  • Irritability or impatience
  • No motivation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling disconnected
  • Hopelessness
  • Overreacting to minor things (this is for sure a warning signal for me)
  • Zoning out
  • Overwhelm or feeling like you’re about to snap (or maybe this is just me?!)


  • Headaches
  • Stomach issues
  • Disrupted sleep or insomnia
  • Low energy and fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Coming down with more illnesses than usual
  • Feeling either jumpy or sluggish

Important to note is that the symptoms mentioned above can also be signs of something else going on in your body. It might be worth contacting your general practitioner for a check-up.

“Burnout is a sign that something needs to change”

How do you recover?

Recovery might take a while. If you’re truly burned out, your body and spirit will need time to heal. You can’t expect a weekend getaway or a good night’s sleep to fix problems that have been around for months or longer. 
Recovering from burnout is a process that will require effort, time and maybe more than one approach. 

8 ways to start your recovery

Set boundaries – to start protecting your time and energy. It might mean speaking to your manager if this is a work-related situation. 
Switch off – constantly being on your phone means your brain never gets proper time to rest & recharge. Make time offline a daily priority. 
Get moving – it might feel counterintuitive when feeling exhausted, but a slow walk of 15-30 minutes often is the best medicine. 
Remove commitments – hard but necessary. In order to put out a fire, you need to remove the things ‘feeding the fire’.

Breathe – our breath is a shortcut to our nervous system. It is impossible for the brain to relax if your breath is short, shallow and fast. Begin and end your day with 1-5 minutes of slow, deep but gentle belly breathing. 
Get help – you don’t have to do this on your own. There are professionals (myself included) who regularly work with clients going through burnout that can be a support, offering guidance, tools & techniques. Talk to your manager if you have one, you might need time off from work, and/or perhaps your employer is willing to (partly) pay for your ‘treatment of choice’ to prevent a long-term sick leave.
Be patient – it takes time to recover. Be kind and gentle with yourself during this time. It is common to have (minor) setbacks. It’s part of the process. 
Plan for fun things – make sure to have (small) fun things planned to look forward to. Things you know will give you energy. It is important to replenish your drained energy-account.