Recovering from Burnout: 5 Strategies to Help You Heal

accountability mindset Oct 17, 2022
Recovering from Burnout: 5 Strategies to Help You Heal


[Listen to the Podcast version here]



This simple word doesn’t begin to describe the overwhelmed exhausted feeling that hits us when we’ve been pushing ourselves too hard.

Unfortunately, I am very familiar with this feeling.

And its best friends Perfectionism and Over Achievement.

And its cousins People Pleasing and Ambition.

As I was thinking about what I wanted to cover in this article, I felt this weight settle on my shoulders…like when a friend who you cut out of your life suddenly shows up unannounced?

To tell this story, I have to go way back.

Let’s see how much we have in common –

  • I’m the oldest child
  • I was expected to set an example for my brother and sister
  • The only acceptable grade was an A
  • I was bullied in school, so the only way I got approval was to do well in school
  • My self-worth was tied to performance

How are we doing so far?

Are some hands going up?

I’m sure many of you have similar experiences to mine.


When Performance = Self Worth

When your self-worth is tied to performance, what do you do?

  • You seek perfection. Nothing less is acceptable because that’s how you “win”
  • You set yourself further apart from others because you have to be the best
  • You pride yourself on your hard work and justify letting other things slide because they don’t get you the results you’re looking for
  • You take on every challenge. It’s how you get more of that praise and acceptance you’re looking for

Sounds really healthy, right?

This was me before I even made it to high school.

Fast forward many years to the pandemic.

My habits were so ingrained into who I was as a person that I couldn’t even recognize them anymore. We all know what happened next…

  • Hiring freezes
  • Budget cuts
  • Do more with less
  • Work more hours to save the company
  • Be all that you can be for the company
  • You can’t go anywhere anyway, right? Just work.

It was a recipe for disaster for someone like me.

I talk a lot in my posts about self-care and burnout.

I do this because I know how awful this gets if you let it play out to the end.

I was working 70 – 80 hours per week.

I lived by myself, so there was no one to help me turn it off.

I ate whatever quick thing I could find.

I tried occasionally to get out and walk and get in a workout.

I could never get any consistency.

I kept telling myself that it would all get better once we could go back to the office.

But it didn’t.

It actually got worse.

Because now, all the extra work I’d done was just expected. It had become the new baseline from which I would be reviewed.

Performance trigger!

Have to be the best!

Just work harder!


Facing the truth

In the fall of 2021, I finally broke.

I remember sitting at the kitchen table with my computer out, working on a Sunday because there was never enough time to get all my work done. I’d worked so many weekends, I lost count. As usual, there was something wrong in the ERP system. Someone in Ops hadn’t done what they needed to do, so I was stuck and coming up on a hard deadline. I snapped.

I started crying.

Huge, ugly sobs.

I couldn’t stop.

Full blown panic attack.

I couldn’t breathe.

I didn’t know what to do.

This was out of my control, but I was going to be found lacking because it wasn’t done.

That’s the worst thing possible for someone who defines who they are by how well they perform. I’d failed to figure it out. Even though there was nothing I could have done, it was still my fault somehow.

After my boyfriend helped calm me down, we had a long talk.

I couldn’t live like this anymore.

I had to make a change for my health and my family.

I was working myself into an early grave and my job fed my worst habits.


Starting the healing process

I wanted to share this story with you because I know many of you have been here or are working up to it.

I think it’s worse when you work for yourself.

There’s so much pressure to perform.

If you can’t get it done, who will?

Leaving that job and starting my consulting business didn’t fix me.

I replaced one set of pressures with another.

I still had to heal.

And create new habits in my life.

This is where we get to the good part.

As I’m writing this article, I have nine months of learning and healing in the books.

It’s not all roses – this has been a tough battle retraining my brain.

But I’m getting there.

And I want to share with you how I’ve done it in the hope that it will help you in your journey.


#1 – Journaling

I started journaling when I had the break down in Fall 2021. I poured all of my feelings and experiences onto the paper. Raw. Unfiltered. Brutal. Looking back at some of the things I wrote during that time, I am concerned for myself all over again. Letting the feelings out and acknowledging that there was a problem I needed to fix was crucial. I still journal, although not every day like I did during those early months. I listen to my body and my mind. When I have something troubling me, I sit down and write. Then, I can think about next actions to take to work through the issues.


#2 – Focusing on Health & Fitness

My health and fitness became a priority for me. I schedule my workouts on my calendar like I would a client meeting. I was so sick physically and mentally at the beginning of this year. That had to change. I struggled to be consistent as it’s not easy breaking bad habits. In the beginning, it was easy to skip my workout and tell myself I’d do it later. FYI – that rarely happened. I downloaded motivation apps on my phone. Started listening to podcasts on healthy habits. And ultimately, hired a coach to help me, which leads me to


#3 – Hiring Accountability Partners and Coaches

I started with hiring an accountability coach to help me get healthy. It took me 5 months to admit I needed help. I highly recommend you skip all that and hire one right away! I’d be even further in my journey if I had. She is a sounding board for me when I’m feeling stressed and tired. We talked about my health and fitness goals and then she built a plan for me to get better. It’s working! I’m slowly implementing healthier eating habits, strength training and cardio into my routine. I’m feeling so much better and stronger than I ever have!

But it’s not just about health and fitness. As business owners, we need to let the walls down and seek help in our businesses as well. I did it on my own for 7 months and then joined a coaching program. A month later, I joined a second one. There’s a lot we have to shoulder as the leader and sometimes only employee of our business that’s going to transform our lives. We can’t do that alone. It’s part of that self-care. Coaches give you someone to talk to, to share the good and the bad with, to ask for advice when you’re not sure what to do. Find one that you can trust and get started as soon as you can.


#4 – Having Fun

The pandemic made this one hard for a long time since things were shut down or had limited access. Then once things opened back up, we all had to learn to get back out there because being shut in our homes had become normal.

As someone recovering from burnout, I knew this was going to be important. It wasn’t easy though. A lot of the fun things I wanted to do cost money. And guess what you don’t want to spend when you just quit your 6-figure job to start your business? Yup! I started small. Game nights. Going to see a movie in the theater. Just little things that I used to enjoy and wanted back in my life. As I’ve fully embraced this aspect of recovery, my boyfriend and I are getting back to pre-pandemic activities like going to concerts. We went to 17 concerts in 2018 and 18 concerts in 2019. We did one in 2020 before the world went to hell. I think we’re at 10 for this year?


#5 Therapy

I am in the process of implementing this one in my life. I think I’m finally healthy enough to take it seriously and do the hard work that is still left to do. I’ve rebuilt my physical health. I’m stronger. I’m in a much better frame of mind. But the old thought patterns are still there. The behaviors that caused my burnout still lurk in the shadows waiting to trip me up. Everything I’ve done to this point has simply prepared me for this next step. I wasn’t ready 9 months ago. I am now. I want to banish the triggers and rewire my brain. Instead of just recovering, I want to be healed.


If you're already suffering from burnout or want to avoid it before it becomes a reality, try implementing these into your routine.

Go slow. Try one thing at a time so you don't overwhelm yourself. 

And be kind to yourself. It's not easy making big changes like this!

To recap, here are 5 things you can try to deal with burnout:

  1. Journaling
  2. Focusing on Health & Fitness
  3. Hiring Accountability Partners and Coaches
  4. Having Fun
  5. Therapy


I’d love to hear from you on how you’ve overcome your burnout and habits you’ve implemented to stay healthy! Connect with me on LinkedIn and let's talk!


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