Burnout – what to do when it happens

Burnout happens to many people at some point. Its that feeling of having no energy to do what needs to be done. No drive, inspiration, motivation, as a result, a general feeling of lethargy and feeling flat. While in this state there is no clarity. In addition, decision making becomes harder. Burnout can be caused by work overload, stress, pushing yourself too hard, moving home or country, too much responsibility, and other possible reasons. Most importantly, recognizing the signs of burnout is vital for overall wellbeing. 


Expat Burnout

Burnout is burnout, right? Technically the answer is yes. However, expats deal with unique challenges that may be unfamiliar territory. Settling into a new country, learning another language, integrating into a different way of life or culture, trying to establish friendships, social life, the list goes on. In addition, doing all of the above without the support of family, and friends. The cherry on the burnout cake is working long hours in a brand new job. No wonder burnout comes knocking at the door!

High achievers push themselves into burnout

High achievers generally like to push themselves hard to achieve their goals.  Whilst this may satisfy their “I can do it all” personalities, it affects many parts of their lives in a negative way. You’re well on the way to burnout if you continue to push yourself beyond your personal limits.


Putting in extra hours at the office with no reward or recognition accelerates the downward slide towards burnout. Ignoring your bodies symptoms letting you know it needs rest is a recipe for disaster.  The big question is, are you partly to blame for burnout when it happens? 


The choices made in life have a direct impact on stress levels, health, lifestyle, productivity and energy levels.  Choosing to stay behind at work instead of going to your exercise class isn’t doing you any favours. How does making that choice you feel? More importantly, why are you doing this to yourself? For what purpose? Your wellbeing is just as important as anyone elses.

Symptoms of burnout

The symptoms of burnout are unpleasant. Over time the immune system is affected leaving you vulnerable to illness and disease.  Here are some common symptoms that may sound familiar to you, however, there are many more in addition to this:

  • Overwhelm
  • A feeling that you can’t take on any more responsibility
  • Feeling out of control with your life
  • Chronic stress
  • Lack of energy, focus, and concentration
  • Sleep issues
  • Loss of appetite or in some cases increased appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Low mood 

If you recognize any of the above within yourself, take it as a wake up call that you really need to address your lifestyle as soon as possible. 

Refuel your energy tank

Imagine your body has its own energy tank, just as your car has a petrol tank.  Of course you stop to refuel the petrol tank when your car is on empty.  If you were to continue to drive the car on empty it would eventually come to a stop. The same applies to you. When your energy tank is empty your body will stop working well for you. Burnout is not something you wake up with, it happens progressively over time.  

Balanced lifestyle

A balanced lifestyle is key to living life in a more peaceful, balanced way.  Take a piece of paper and draw a circle. Segment slices off to represent the amount of time spent in each area of:

  • Work
  • Rest
  • Play
  • Family
  • Exercise

The results of this may make you realize an imbalanced lifestyle has crept up on you. Living life in balance is important to feel happy, healthy and well. It is common for some people who push themselves incredibly hard to let a balanced lifestyle take a low priority.  Many don’t sleep enough hours, eat healthily, exercise enough, travel, therefore, fall into numbing the discomfort of an imbalanced lifestyle with alcohol and sometimes drugs. 


When was the last time you truly relaxed?  I have heard clients tell me that they don’t know how to feel relaxed or what it feels like. Recharging, rejuvenating, and relaxation is going to help keep you energized, enthusiastic and more balanced. Everyone has their own preference for relaxation, so whether that is taking time to read your favourite book, unleash your creativity, meditate, mindfulness, do more of it!  



Regular exercise has many benefits. It releases endorphins, reduces stress, makes you feel good, and as a result, boosts health and wellbeing.  A one-hour workout is literally 4% of the day.  Exercise is about creating time in your life to do it. Do what you can to motivate yourself. Buddy up, book classes, work out from home, skip while cooking, bounce on a mini trampoline while watching TV, get moving. Your mind and body will thank you. 


Sleep issues and insomnia

Sleep issues are common with burnout leading to feeling exhausted, tired, and irritable. The body rejuvenates itself during sleep. Above all quality of sleep is more important than quantity. Switch off devices a couple of hours before bed because the blue light emitted disrupts sleep patterns. 


Say no and mean it!

 Being assertive isn’t always easy, however, in terms of overall wellbeing it is non-negotiable. Learn to say no and mean it.  If work is getting too much for you, speak to someone senior about how you feel. Firstly, this lets those involved know that they need to consider your needs and secondly to implement changes to reduce your load.

Self-employment burnout

Working for yourself means no sick pay, holiday pay, in addition, working harder to cover those times when you are off. This in itself can very quicky lead to burnout.

Keep burnout at bay

Burnout is something to be aware of at all times whether you work for yourself, or someone else. This is also true for a pressurised home life.  Recognising some of the symptoms and behaviour described enough may help you to take a step back and assess your lifestyle and implement changes immediately to lead you back towards living a happier, balanced, peaceful, less stressed life.

If any of the above resonates, or you feel burnout is beginning to impact your life, then make sure to get help immediately. You have one life, live it well.

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Have a great day.


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