We’ve all been there. With so much on our plates, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed sometimes. That’s especially true of your running (or trying to build) a small business or working as a freelancer. That’s why it’s important to take steps to avoid burnout before it happens!

How to Avoid Burnout and Reduce Stress

Believe it or not, doing some preventative work to avoid burnout will actually make your more productive. Generally speaking, if you burn out you won’t be able to get much done at all. Your business might even suffer.

“Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.”

Help Guide

It usually happens when we push ourselves too far or try and do too much.

Burnout is a real thing and everyone’s threshold for burning out is different. Personal factors such as illness might mean you burnout quicker than others, but the idea that only “weak” people burn out is wildly untrue.

Burnout is different than stress. Stress is temporary, burnout happens after prolonged stress exposure.

If you feel like a burnout might be a possibility there’s some things you can do to prevent it before it happens. These are also steps you can take if you’re feeling the early symptoms of burnout (before it’s too late).

Social ways to avoid burnout

Talk to someone. Whether it’s a friend, family member, coworker, or counsellor, tell someone how you’re feeling. It’s often therapeutic on its own just to talk about our problems, even if it doesn’t solve anything.

Work on a solution. Burnout comes from stress, so naturally the best way to avoid it is to avoid the stressor, right? Sometimes that’s easier said than done, but try and find a way to dial back on whatever is stressing you out. For example, if it’s a work project, reach out to your boss to let them know how you’re feeling and see if they have any advice.

Keep toxicity at bay. If you’re feeling like a burnout might be incoming, don’t let toxic people hurry it along. Sometimes we don’t have the physical energy or mental space to deal with toxic people in our lives. Send them packing!

Personal ways to reduce stress

Try eating better or improve one aspect of your diet. A lot of times when we have too much going on we neglect what goes into our bodies. Instead of getting a burger on the way home from a stressful meeting, opt for a salad instead. Even if it’s not “less calories” you still benefit from eating some leafy greens.

Get some exercise or join a fitness class. You can exercise in the mornings, evenings, or even at your desk. If motivation is a problem, consider joining a weekly workout class so you have some accountability. Exercise releases endorphins which make you feel good.

Have some more fun. Making time for play is important no matter how old you are. Sometimes we just need to turn out brains off and have a good time. Whether that’s going to an escape room, dancing the night away, or killing zombies in a video games, doing something you enjoy is good for your mental wellbeing.

Look at your priorities. Are you wasting a lot of time doing things that don’t add to your life? Maybe your morning scroll through Facebook is actually leaving you feeling worse. Replace it with some reading or journaling time instead (or anything you’d like!) and see how your day changes.

Burnout is a real problem (how to avoid burnout)

Reduce stress to avoid burnout

Again, the root cause of burnout is stress. Learn stress management skills to help you get through life’s difficult times. There’s plenty of books out and blogs to read online. Or consider a stress relieving hobby. A yoga class or meditation app are great places to start.

Reframe how you see the world. Whatever is stressing you out, see if you can change your perspective on the problem to relieve stress. For example, if you’re upset a project didn’t go your way, try and focus on any positive outcomes. If it’s really bleak, at least focus on what’s positive in your life instead.

Take some time off of work. If the stress is really getting to you, consider a vacation to brighten your mood. If that’s not possible, a few days of doing absolutely nothing stress-related might just do the trick.

Other ways to avoid burnout

  • Set boundaries and practice saying no.
  • Know your own limits and respect them.
  • Have some screen free time every day.
  • Get more sleep.
  • Make time for creativity or creative hobbies.

Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to cope with stress. You might have to actually look at your life and adjust in major ways to keep burnout from happening. Whether it’s small changes like hiring a housekeeper to something as major as a new job, you can’t expect to spend your whole life under stress and still stay mentally and physically healthy.

Sometimes the only way to avoid burnout is with change.