They say that prevention is better than cure, and that is certainly the case when it comes to burnout. Being able to spot the hidden warning signs and work on burnout prevention is generally far easier than trying to recover from burnout once it has hit. In this guide, we’ll go through 22 different techniques to help try and prevent burnout before it creeps in and takes over.
If you’re worried that you may be experiencing burnout, take our free burnout symptoms test to see whether you’re at risk and what to do next.
Why We Need to Try and Avoid Burnout
We have seen a huge rise in burnout cases over the last few years, and there are many different reasons for that (see our guide on 20 common burnout causes to learn more). Whilst one of the number one reasons was always a stressful work environment, there has been a rise in those burning out due to things such as financial worries and having to work from home.
Burnout can have a real negative impact on our mental health, making us feel overwhelmed, cynical, and even depressed. Emotional exhaustion and physical fatigue are two symptoms also common in those burning out.
When we reach the point of burnout, it can be a lot harder to recover without generally needing quite a lot of time off work and/or other responsibilities. So, it’s key that we learn the right burnout prevention techniques that can help us avoid burnout in the first instance.
22 Burnout Prevention Techniques to Add to Your Toolbox
We always say that it’s vital to have a whole toolbox of burnout prevention techniques at your disposal as there’s never a one size fits all approach. Make your way through this list of ways to prevent burnout and focus on the ones that resonate with you. Don’t try to do all of the things all at once, unless you want to end up with self-care burnout! Instead, pick a few, give them a try, and then add them into your daily routine if they work for you.
1. Focus on The Basics
First on our list is to focus on the basics, which is something that often gets left to the wayside if we’re struggling with chronic stress and burnout. Foundation One of our Five Foundations of Wellness is called The Basics, and this focuses on sleep, nutrition and hydration. Make sure you’re taking care of your basic needs first before attempting to cram in a ton of self-care.
This means eating food that feels good for you, getting enough sleep, and drinking enough water. Once the basics are covered, you’ll find it a lot easier to try other burnout prevention techniques.
2. Get Enough Sleep
Expanding slightly on our topic of the basics, sleep is one of the most important factors for our physical and mental health. When we don’t get enough sleep, we generally find it impacts our mood the next day. This can then lead to issues such as anxiety, a lack of energy for physical activity, emotional eating, and depression.
It can be a vicious cycle of not looking after ourselves and not getting enough sleep, so make sure you’re making this a priority first of all! Aim to go to bed a little earlier each night and try to avoid Revenge Bedtime Procrastination!
3. Move Your Body
One of the best ways to avoid burnout is by looking after your physical health and moving your body is key. At The Anti-Burnout Club we believe people should move their body in a way that feels good for them, whether that’s yoga, Pilates or kitchen discos.
Pushing yourself to do exercise that you don’t enjoy will just add another stressor to your plate – which we don’t need! So try a range of different movement types and then add the one you love most into your daily routine. Burnout prevention should always fit into your life and not be an extra thing that makes you feel stressed.
4. Learn Conscious Breathing
We’re big fans of conscious breathing and breath work here because it’s such an incredible to take some time for yourself. Not only is it ideal for a few minutes of self-care, but there’s actually science behind why this is such a brilliant burnout prevention technique.
Breath work can help calm the nervous system when we’re feeling particularly overwhelmed or stressed out. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system (also known as ‘rest and digest’) to help us feel calmer and more in control.
5. Try Getting Mindful
Mindfulness is yet another powerful tool when it comes to trying to prevent burnout and there are many different ways you can be mindful! You can be mindful when moving your body, mindful when brushing your teeth, or mindful when meditating. It’s perfect for those who are short on time but still want to fit wellbeing into their routine.
Research has shown that bringing awareness to the present moment, and how we feel in that moment, can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression symptoms too. It’s the ideal burnout prevention technique for those who are always feeling overwhelmed and busy. Not sure where to start? Try our beginning mindfulness guide.
6. Reach Out to Others
When we’re feeling particularly stressed or burnt out, we can often hide away as we’re worried about burdening others. However, social connections are key to becoming more resilient in the face of stress and there’s plenty of research out there to back this up! Those who deal with stress the best aren’t afraid to ask for help.
Reach out to close friends or family members for social support when you need it. Not only can it help ease stress, but it can also increase happiness, reduce loneliness, and make you more resilient too. Social support is vital for burnout prevention and if you don’t have friends and family that you can rely on then we have another tip for you further down.
7. Talk to a Professional
If you’re really struggling with feelings of stress and overwhelm, then it’s vital that you speak to a medical professional before things get too much. Your first port of call will generally be a GP who can signpost you towards local support, often in the form of social prescribing.
You may also want to seek out a therapist or counsellor who will be able to provide you with a listening ear and a range of tools to help ease any stress or overwhelm. If you’re already burning out then a medical professional should always be the first person you speak to, even just to get the ball rolling. However, don’t just leave it until the last minute! Speak to your doctor about burnout prevention before you’re experiencing full burnout.
8. Schedule in Downtime
It’s no surprise that self-care ends up at the bottom of the to-do list when modern life feels busier than ever. Many of us will have a lot of responsibility both at home and at work, and it can feel almost impossible to make time for our own wellbeing.
One way to prevent burnout is to actually schedule in downtime as if it’s an important appointment that you just can’t get out of. Pop your headphones in and listen to the podcast episode ‘Finding the time for wellbeing in your routine’ to learn more.
9. Try the Pomodoro Method
You may have heard of the Pomodoro Method before, as it’s often used as a productivity method to help you get more stuff done. The Pomodoro method is where you focus on one task for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break, which is thought to help you tick more things off your to-do list. However, we like teaching it in a slightly different way.
In our way, you still complete the 25 minutes of focus but think about how you want to use those 5 minutes wisely for self-care. You can fit in some quick movement, a mindful moment, grab a glass of water or just get some stretches in. You can use many of these burnout prevention techniques to fill in your 5 minutes of self-care time! You can see Bex explaining this in more detail at The Big Retreat festival here.
10. Talk to Your Manager About Workload
If you are experiencing burnout from work, then one of the first things to do is talk to your manager, HR or occupational health team about your workload. Some of the most common causes of job burnout are a high workload, a stressful work environment, and unrealistic expectations or targets. This can lead to emotional exhaustion, chronic stress and eventually job burnout.
Ask to speak to whoever is best suited to deal with your concerns and be honest and open about how the workload is making you feel right now. You may also want to create a Wellness Action Plan which we’ll cover in more detail a little later on.
11. Get Some Resilience Training
Resilience is a key skill to learn when it comes to burnout prevention as it’s extremely helpful for stress management and feeling more confident in our abilities. There are many different ways you can learn resilience and many workplaces are now offering resilience training to their employees too.
We provide resilience training as part of our talks and workshops for organisations, so this may be something you want to bring up with your manager, HR or occupational health team. Alternatively, we sometimes host resilience workshops online for individuals so follow us on Eventbrite to be notified of the next one.
12. Focus on Your Character Strengths
One of the key lessons we teach in our resilience training is to focus on your character strengths as opposed to your weaknesses. While many of us can focus on our weaknesses and what we want to improve without any trouble, actually playing to our strengths can be a little more difficult.
According to the VIA Institute, everyone has 24 different character strengths in different degrees and using these to your advantage can reduce stress, increase your happiness, improve your work performance and even boost your confidence. Find your strengths by taking the free test, and then focus on using these in your work and home life every single day.
13. Pursue Passions and Purpose
Another burnout prevention technique that comes up often in resilience workshops is to pursue passions and purpose. Those who feel as though they have a real purpose in their work will generally find it easier to deal with the day-to-day stresses in the work environment.
Consider the impact of the work you do every day, is there real meaning? Do you make a difference to people’s lives? If purpose seems like a loaded word or too difficult to pin down, instead focus on your passions in life and what lights you up.
14. Create a Wellness Action Plan
A wellness action plan is a great way to prevent burnout, as it considers what the stressors may be and how you can combat them before they become too much. These are generally provided by an employer for employees to fill in, but you can make your own if you’d prefer.
Our free workplace wellbeing pack contains a template for wellness action plans, as well as printable questionnaires, exercises and tips to help prevent burnout at work. Feel free to download this yourself or send it to your manager. We’re really big on burnout prevention on the workplace, so if you have any questions you can always get in touch too.
15. Understand Your Priorities
What is really important to you in life? With so much to do on a daily basis, prioritising is key for burnout prevention. That could be prioritising to-dos and task lists for better time management, but it can also go a lot deeper than that.
You may be working in a role that doesn’t fill you with purpose, or you may be taking on responsibilities at home that aren’t really a priority for you (you just feel like you have to do them). Write down a list of all the things that are most important for you and turn those into your priorities, even if it means making some big changes.
16. Practise Gratitude
Gratitude may seem like such a simple practice, but there’s a reason it has become so popular. If we tend to look for the things that have gone wrong in our day, then we can often feel as though everything is falling apart. It can create a pessimistic outlook which makes it much harder for us to get on top of stress.
This TEDx talk, ‘The Happy Secret to Better Work,’ by positive psychology expert Shawn Achor, explains just how important it is for us to look for the good in every day. Even just naming three things you’re grateful for every day can help reduce stress and prevent burnout.
17. Set Boundaries and Say No
Those who find themselves saying yes to everything, or who are self-confessed people-pleasers, are most at risk of experiencing burnout. It’s unsurprising, considering these are the people who tend to put too much on their plates and then feel overwhelmed. Many of us can fall into this trap and find it difficult to say no.
Practice setting boundaries and saying no, both in the work environment and at home. You don’t need to explain yourself, a simple “I’m sorry, I can’t do that right now” is enough. Start practising on smaller requests so that it becomes second nature for you to set and respect your own boundaries. If you’re a member, then this lesson from therapist Gemma is ideal for helping to set boundaries.
18. Surround Yourself with Good People
We’ve briefly spoken about reaching out to others, but it doesn’t just stop there. The right social support is vital for burnout prevention and not everyone has the kind of friends and family that they feel comfortable reaching out to. In this case, you need to create your own social support circle by surrounding yourself with the right people.
This could be in the form of workplace wellbeing groups, joining clubs and community groups, finding new friends with similar interests, or even joining our gorgeous community for members of The ABC. Surround yourself with good people who light you up and help ease your stresses.
19. Ask For Time Off
If you’re worried that things are getting a little too much at work, then it may be that you need to ask for time off before things get too bad. It can be hard requesting time off, especially if you’re in a work environment that frowns upon it, but it’s far better to ask now than to need it when you’re fully burnt out.
What you do with this time off is totally down to you, but don’t use it as an excuse to ‘catch up’ on any work or responsibilities that you’re ‘falling behind’ on. Instead, make the most of the time to rest, practise self-care, and do what feels good for you. Take the time off and don’t feel as though you have to be productive to make the most out of it.
20. Leave Work at Work
Now, we fully appreciate that this can be a lot easier for some people than others depending on your role, but it’s a key burnout prevention technique that can make all the difference. As we mentioned earlier, it’s important to set boundaries and that includes boundaries on your time. If you finish work at 5pm then make sure you really do finish at that time.
Turn off all work notifications from your phone, put anything that reminds you of work away, and leave work at work. If you are working from home, then ensure this doesn’t creep into your downtime so that you can give yourself a proper break.
21. Find a New Job
In some cases, you can try all the burnout prevention techniques in the world, but it’s the job itself that is causing the most stress. It’s generally a last resort for many, but it is something that you should seriously consider if you’re concerned about job burnout.
Try speaking to management, taking time off, and leaving work at work first. If none of these work, then it may be that you need to find a new job. No job is worth your health, so really do take this into consideration if you need to.
22. Take the Free Burnout Workshop
Finally, we have an excellent free workshop that includes an anti-burnout workbook for those who want to focus on preventing burnout. It includes some of the warning signs of burnout to look out for and then several burnout prevention techniques that have been proven to work.
Click here to take the free burnout workshop and download the free workbook and see how you get on. We also send free resources every Sunday to help with everything from burnout prevention through to resilience.