Idaho, Iowa, Des Moines
October 14, 2023

3 Strategies to Manage Your Burnout

If you’re in the cycle of burnout, you know how defeating it can feel. By the time burnout hits, you might not have the time or resources to figure out how to extract yourself from it. Plus, in order to prevent it from recurring, you might need to untangle years of people-pleasing and equating work to your worth. While managing burnout is totally doable, it can be exhausting. In my therapy practice, I work with millennials who struggle with burnout and anxiety. My clients and I figure out how to navigate burnout in ways that work for their lives. 

Burnout is challenging, but with support and effort, you can learn to live a life without it. Here’s how to begin. 

Ask Yourself: ‘What’s Really Causing My Burnout?’

Workplace burnout is a common problem for my clients. As I’ve said before, workplace burnout is not your fault. Instead, it’s the responsibility of bosses and management to make sure employees have what they need to thrive. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the reality. If you’re struggling with any kind of burnout, it’s worth asking yourself what’s truly at the root of it. You can ask yourself questions like:

  • Is the culture at your workplace cutthroat or toxic?
  • Are you constantly expected to go above and beyond your job duties in order to get promotions or recognition?
  • Is your job or industry truly aligned with your values?
  • Do you equate productivity with self-worth?
  • Is your boss an asshole or do your coworkers make you miserable?
  • Do you struggle with fears (such as imposter syndrome or a fear of disappointing others) that keep you from properly managing your workload?
  • Are you a people-pleaser?
  • Do you struggle with things like procrastination, neurodivergence, or an undiagnosed mental health issue? 

Asking yourself questions like these can help you understand what’s really going on for you, so you can know how to tackle your particular brand of burnout. But these questions can be difficult and scary to navigate.

For example, if you know deep down that your job is way too demanding and fast-paced, but you’re also terrified to start over in another career, you might struggle to be truly honest with yourself. Or maybe you struggle with people-pleasing and anxiety, but doing the labor to try and mitigate those factors in your life just feels too hard.

I get it. If you’re like many of my clients, you’re afraid of what you’ll find if you dig too deep. And you might also be afraid of feeling obligated to make huge changes in your life when you figure out what’s really going on beneath the surface. 

In order to allow full transparency with yourself and your needs, give yourself permission to not do anything about your answers right away. You don’t need to make any big changes, now or ever. You simply might not be ready to do anything differently right now, and that’s perfectly okay. You can be honest with yourself and still decide to keep moving in the same direction as you are currently. If that’s the case, there’s absolutely no judgment. You’re the only one who gets to decide how to live your life. You get to do whatever feels right for you. 

However, at least you’ll have all the information you need to make an informed decision about what to do next. If you bury your head in the sand, you’ll continue being burned out and stressed. Telling yourself the truth gives you freedom to acknowledge what’s really going on, and a chance to choose a better future. 

Set boundaries to manage burnout

How to Set Boundaries to Manage Burnout

Setting boundaries without feeling like a jerk is easier said than done, especially if you’re a recovering people-pleaser. But as I’ve talked about before, it’s one of the best ways to gain back control of your time and relationships. Boundaries help you protect your energy and resources, ask for what you need to be successful, and teach other people how you want to be treated. 

Here are three ways you can set boundaries to manage burnout.

  1. Release the need to go above and beyond.

You don’t have to go above and beyond your job description to be a good employee. Work on letting go of the need to prove yourself. 

Don’t:

  • Take on more than your share of work
  • Make yourself available after hours
  • Respond to calls or emails during times you aren’t working
  • Let your boss talk you into working extra hours or overtime if you don’t want to

Do:

  • Communicate your boundaries clearly. You can set an automated response in your email to go out after hours. Or on the following work day, you can say something like, “thanks for your email. I’m offline during the weekends and after 5pm, and will respond to after-hours communication when I am back at work.”
  1. Say no.

In order to manage your workload, you might need to make yourself unavailable sometimes. That might mean saying no to a tiny request, and it might mean saying no to a huge project. No is a complete sentence. You get to choose when to say it. If something adds to your stress or makes you feel resentful, you don’t have to take it on. And if you’re worried about coming across as too aggressive, remember that assertive, direct, clear-cut communication is not the same thing as aggression. 

  1. Advocate for your needs.

Advocate for your needs can make a huge difference in burnout management. If you’re someone who thinks you have to do everything on your own, this is for you. Advocating for yourself can look like:

  • Asking your boss to reassign projects or workload if you feel overworked
  • Requesting a raise
  • Taking time off
  • Using your sick days (if you have them)
  • Requesting workplace accommodations for anxiety, ADHD, or something else
  • Asking for support or mentorship

If self-advocacy feels difficult for you, start small. Ask for support with a project you’re working on. Ask a friend or loved one to help you with something, large or small, in your life. The more you practice asking for what you need, the more it will become a habit. 

Therapy and Coaching Can Help You Manage Burnout

If you want support managing your burnout, I can help. I’m here to help you figure out ways to protect your energy and boost your mental health at work, home, and everywhere else. 

Together we’ll figure out what’s beneath your burnout, strategize ways to help you cope, and come up with goals to prevent it from happening in the future. 

I’m ready if you are. Reach out today to get started.

Meet the author

Danielle Wayne

Danielle is an anxiety therapist and perfectionism coach. She specializes in helping busy millennials dial down their anxiety and ADHD, so they can perform at their best. Danielle has been featured on Apartment Therapy, SparkPeople, Lifewire, and Now Art World. When Danielle isn't helping her clients, she's playing video games or spending time with her partner and step children.

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