Burned Out? 5 Steps to Take Before Throwing in the Towel

Depleted. Drained. Sapped. Empty. Zero fucks. Lackluster. Exhausted.

Do any of these words resonate? How much of your life do you spend feeling this way? Guesstimate for yourself: What percentage of your time are you exhausted? Has it changed since the start of the pandemic?

We all have times when we feel helpless, overloaded, and unappreciated, or have days when just getting out of bed requires a Herculean effort.

We all have moments when we are stressed out, overwhelmed, and want to throw in the towel.

We all have dreams of driving away from the chaos, speeding off, wheels spinning, top down, junk receding into a distant memory in the mirror.

But here’s the question: Are you tired, or are you burned out?


TLDR: Burnout is the emotional exhaustion that comes from caring too much for too long. It’s critical to be aware of the signs before you crash because burnout has major consequences for both organizations and individuals.


Burnout is what happens when you are stressed out, overworked, lack in resources, and don’t know how to replenish yourself. It’s feeling that nothing you do makes any difference; you can’t meet the constant demands on your attention, and eventually you lose interest and motivation.

Who is affected by burnout? Type As. Workaholics. People pleasers. Parents. Perfectionists. Doctors. Executives. Care-givers. Folks who are under-challenged, neglected, and bored. In a word: people.

Burnout doesn’t have an actual psychological diagnosis code. It falls into the I-know-it-when-I-see-it category. Moreover, burnout is a building block for depression, and depression is the second leading cause of global disability. Let that sink in for a minute.


Burnout definition


There’s a very clear association with burnout and poor health. Burnout is highly correlated with high blood pressure, substance abuse, heart attacks, back pain, and divorce rates, just to name a few things that affect individuals.

For organizations, corporate and institutional burnout costs money. The direct costs are related to loss of productivity, vacancies that need to be filled, recruitment, training, and start up costs. For example: 50-60% of work absence globally is related to burnout and in medical facilities, there’s a clear correlation between burned out residents and an increase in medical errors.

So what’s the answer? What do we do to try to care for ourselves before it’s too late?

For individuals:

  1. Self Awareness. No one can do this but you. Pay attention to how you are feeling.
  2. Self Care. This is important always, but especially now. Take a walk. Take a bath. Meditate. Do whatever makes you feel good.
  3. Exercise. This is possibly the most important part of self care. I don’t care what you do, just find something you love and move your body.
  4. Rest. Everything alive needs to rest. For more on rest, check out “3 Ways to Energetically Reset Your Body.”
  5. Make sure work-life balance is on-point. I know it’s easier said than done, but it is ohhh so important. Figure out what you want your life to look like and go after it.


For Organizations:

  1. Appreciate your employees. With words and with deeds.
  2. Create an organizational culture that reflects the value system and beliefs that you want to embody. Where do you want to work? Make the place you work feel that way.
  3. Educate people about burnout so that the organization is aware of the propensity and the costs of burnout. Talk about it, and model what you want to see.
  4. Create clear structure, and keep employees involved in decision making.
  5. Make sure that there is a full 360° of support. That means that people below, above, and on the same level are looking out for one another and taking good care to make sure that burnout is caught before it’s too late.


These are a few steps you can take before it’s too late.

For more ideas, stay tuned…I’ll have more coming your way! And if you have questions related to burnout, let me know in the comments below and I’ll work on incorporating answers for you into future posts.