How to Prevent Burnout by Setting Good Habits


If you are feeling drained and on the verge of utter exhaustion from life’s demands, you are not alone. Welcome to the world of burnout – a state where physical and mental fatigue collide.

Burnout takes a toll on both body and mind, manifesting as overwhelming stress, persistent fatigue, and a diminished capacity to find joy in once-enjoyable activities. The key to evading burnout lies in proactively cultivating stress-coping techniques before the storm hits.

In this article, we’ll delve into understanding the signs of burnout and discover practical tips to dodge this energy-sucking phenomenon that will equip you for the battle against the chaos causing burnout. Join us on a journey to reclaim your balance and learn how to navigate the chaos without feeling drained.

First, let’s talk about how to recognize symptoms of burnout, then explore habits that can help you manage the feelings that lead to burnout.

Am I close to burning out?

Burnout is considered to be an “occupational phenomenon,” according to the World Health Organization’s classification of diseases. While many facets of life can be overwhelming, the term burnout is only used to describe symptoms of work-related stress. However, people who experience stress at home are more susceptible to burnout.

Burnout isn’t considered a medical condition, though that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it seriously, or that you should be ashamed if you’re struggling. Burnout can lead to health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.

If you suspect you are suffering from burnout, take the time to ask yourself the following questions: [1]

  • Have you become cynical or critical at work?
  • Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started?
  • Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
  • Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
  • Do you find it hard to concentrate?
  • Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
  • Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
  • Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
  • Have your sleep habits changed?
  • Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems, or other physical complaints?

Answering yes to any of these questions could indicate burnout. It’s a good idea to speak to your doctor or mental health provider because these feelings could be related to depression or another health condition.

How can I prevent burnout?

You’ve probably experienced the frazzled rush of getting the kids dressed and to school before making it to the office for the daily 9 am briefing, or a similarly hectic routine. Workers worldwide feel constant pressure to be all, and do all, on the job and at home. In a 2022 study by Asana of 10,000 knowledge workers across seven countries, 70% of people experienced burnout in the past year. [2] And women are hurting the most; 67% percent of women in the Asana study reported experiencing burnout compared to 59% of men. The data on burnout shows that attitudes about work need to change. Evidentially, 40% of workers polled by Asana claim they accept burnout as an unavoidable part of achieving workplace success. But you can change your mindset. Here are some solid habits that can prevent burnout by improving your work-life balance and how you respond to stress.

Do less

This is probably the most effective tip, but routinely doing less is perhaps the most difficult to establish habit on this list. That’s because it requires some unlearning and brain rewiring. We live in a society where leaving later than the boss and constantly working toward the next goal is praised. The expressions “hustle culture,” “girl boss” and “the grind” come to mind.

Resting and conserving energy is essential to avoiding burnout and can make us more productive. Practice better work-life balance by having a hard stop time on work for the day and honor that promise to yourself whenever possible. Don’t be afraid to say “no” or reschedule obligations that can wait.

Automating, delegating and eliminating tasks whenever possible are big stress relievers that double as an efficiency booster. Is there a program that can help you batch tasks or get through email faster? Could you use the help of a virtual assistant? Taking more off your plate helps.

Practice self awareness

Practices that build awareness of your thoughts, feelings and behaviors — such as journaling and meditation — can help you stay ahead of burnout. But it’s often hard to take the time to notice your stress levels. Harvard-trained psychologist Debbie Sorensen has a quick self-awareness practice for when you’re feeling the first signs of stress. The three-step “Pause, Notice, Choose” strategy [3] will take you five minutes at most, and can help you more accurately gauge stress levels and identify stress triggers. Take a moment to do the following:
  • Pause: When you feel an intense emotion, stop what you’re doing and guiltlessly take a moment for yourself. That pause could be taking a short walk, or simply sitting in silence for a few minutes.
  • Notice: Ask yourself, “where is this feeling coming from, and why is it popping up now?”
  • Choose: Reflect on your values and priorities in relation to the situation. Then choose the best solution to the problem, one that is in line with your values and priorities. Then move forward by doing something joyful, such as calling a friend or listening to your favorite song. (The writer of this article puts it all behind her by baking delicious treats. Do what works best for you!)

Enjoy time outside of work

Avocations, or hobbies, are essential to bringing joy to your life. Work and familial obligations can tax our energy, so it’s important to devote time to you. What’s your passion? Don’t say it’s work! Choose a rejuvenating activity you would want to do regularly as an outlet for stress. Your avocation doesn’t have to make money or unearth a hidden talent — enjoyment is the only requirement.

Stimulate your vagus nerve

Truvaga is a great tool to help manage stress to prevent burnout. When placed gently on the neck for just two minutes, Truvaga taps into the power of the vagus nerve to promote a deep state of relaxation.

Non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation may reduce negative emotions often experienced during burnout, a 2023 study published in the Journal of European Psychiatry [4] shows. In the study, participants experiencing burnout found non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation reduced feelings of depersonalization and minimization of career achievement.

Learn more about how Truvaga can be a reliable part of your toolkit for preventing burnout.