5 Strategies to Prevent Burnout

Recently, on a Saturday afternoon, I came to the scary realization that I was facing a severe case of burnout! That week, I diligently worked to prepare scripts for the next five podcast episodes. I struggled to get going, but that isn’t completely abnormal. I thought I was making real progress when I sensed significant internal pushback.

Uh, oh, I said as I eerily sensed what was happening. I had felt that feeling before, but where? Then, finally, it hit me. I remember this identical feeling a few years ago, towards the end of the year.

I was wrapping up a successful year of consistent workouts. I had begun that year overweight, out of shape, and unsatisfied with how I felt. I slowly started moving more consistently, beginning with small walks around my backyard.

Eventually, I was walking one mile three to four times per week. The next thing I knew, I was hooked! I would push myself on workouts two to three days per week and walk a mile or more the other days. On my tough workout days, I ran upwards of two to four miles on a treadmill.

It felt good!!

At some point in my journey, I got seriously off track. Instead of seeing my success in the healthy lifestyle change, I started measuring my success by keeping my streak going on my watch. Completing my rings was so satisfying that I wasn’t happy doing it two to three times per week. My workouts had quickly gotten out of hand!

I remember several times while working out in November or December that I was dreading the fact that I was missing time with my daughter. Towards the end of the day, I would find myself remembering that I hadn’t completed a workout. Reluctantly, I would get up and change into my gym clothes. If it were one of my easy workout days, I would walk around outside at night looking up at the stars.

I wondered how I had gotten here. I was so proud of my progress but was so sick of working out that I resented it. Then, instead of taking a week off or two weeks off, I quit altogether! I don’t recall what I thought then, but now I look back incredibly discouraged.

All that time spent getting into shape was a waste because I failed to create a healthy balance in my life. Back then, I failed to see any warning signs that burnout was on the horizon. I was too focused on results and should have spent more time thinking about sustainability. I was robbing other areas of my life to achieve my workout goals. This oversight came back to bite me in the end.

That Saturday, as I sat in my studio, I remembered this story as I sensed an overwhelming feeling of burnout, which terrified me! I was stressed because I did not have enough active volunteers in the Overflow Community to fill in so I could step away. How would I take a break? How could I?

Immediately, I knew I had to do something, but what?! We were in the middle of a study, and I couldn’t just miss our weekly community group meetings. I went to church that evening, confident God would speak to me. The longer this issue sat with me, the more I realized I needed time away from creating videos and podcasts.

As I sat in church, I thought how desperately I needed other community members open to leading our group discussion on Sundays. I was discouraged that I had yet to recruit enough volunteers to fill in for these types of scenarios. Saturday evening, God helped me see things clearer. We would hit pause on our current study and start a short study titled ​Who Do You Think You Are?​ from Life.Church. It’s a great study of how to embrace your identity in Christ.

Since Life.Church generously gives away all of the materials on its Open Network, which allowed me to pause creating new content while providing engaging community activities. I would step out in faith and ask volunteers to lead our discussions, freeing me to relax and recharge.

Burnout—maybe you have experienced it before. Whether you are leading a community, a small business, a nonprofit, your family, or a Fortune 500 company, the consequences of ignoring the signs of burnout are devastating. In the story mentioned above, I was fortunate to recognize what was coming if I didn’t do something to improve my situation. I am also blessed to have the experience of knowing what it would be like if I did not do something about it. In the following paragraphs, we will look at burnout, the typical signs, and strategies to help us prevent it.

Defining Burnout

Before we get too far, let’s take a few minutes to define burnout. Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged and excessive stress, and it is an increasingly prevalent issue in the modern workplace. According to a report by the Harvard Business Review, burnout accounts for an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion in healthcare costs each year in the United States.2 Recognizing the signs of burnout and implementing preventive strategies is crucial for maintaining a healthy and productive team.

Signs of Burnout

Burnout can show itself in a variety of ways, both physically and psychologically. Some of the common signs include:

1. Chronic fatigue and exhaustion, even after periods of rest.3
2. Increased cynicism, detachment, and loss of motivation.3
3. Decreased productivity and difficulty concentrating.4
4. Physical symptoms such as headaches, gastrointestinal issues, and insomnia.1
5. Feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and reduced professional efficacy.3

Looking over this list, I can see that I’ve been experiencing different degrees of each symptom. Most recently, I experienced decreased productivity and difficulty concentrating. I also saw chronic fatigue and exhaustion, headaches, and feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.

5 Strategies to Prevent Burnout

It’s not enough to recognize the signs of burnout if we do not implement strategies to prevent it. If I had sensed the signs of burnout last Saturday but had done nothing about it, my story would have been much different. My big win in this story is that I learned to recognize the warning signs. When I was working out a few years ago, I failed to see any of this, and it cost me dearly.

I am still new to all of this, but I can tell you that more than one solution is needed. Preventing burnout requires a multifaceted approach involving both individual and organizational efforts. Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, a business executive, a nurse, a chef, or running a nonprofit, it is important to figure out what strategies work for you.

Below is a list of helpful strategies:

1. Promote work-life balance:
Encourage your team to establish clear boundaries between work and personal life, take regular breaks, and engage in activities outside of work.5 

2. Foster a supportive work environment:
Cultivate a culture of open communication, respect, and collaboration where people feel valued and supported.3

3. Provide resources and training:
Offer assistance programs, stress management workshops, and brain health resources to equip employees with coping strategies.1

4. Encourage self-care:
Promote healthy habits such as regular exercise, proper nutrition, and mindfulness practices to help manage stress.5

5. Optimize workloads and job demands:
Regularly assess and adjust workloads to ensure they are manageable and provide employees with the necessary resources and support to meet job demands.4

While some of these are more suited for those working in larger organizations, we can all take steps to apply these to our lives. In my case, I could do a better job at taking regular breaks and strategically scheduling community activities and programming so that I get time away from creating content for the Overflow Community. It would also be beneficial for me to communicate with the Overflow Leadership Team members to let them know how I am doing and when I am planning breaks.

By recognizing the signs of burnout and implementing preventive strategies, organizations of all sizes can create a healthier, more productive, and more engaged workforce. Addressing burnout benefits employee well-being and the organization’s overall success and sustainability.

If you recognize signs of burnout in yourself or someone around you, please practice self-care. If it is a friend, gently come alongside them to help them see and take steps in their own lives. The first step is recognizing the problem or potential problem. This insight opens up many opportunities to live a long and healthy life. The next step is to put a plan in place to address needs. The final step is incorporating healthy, sustainable habits to prevent burnout.

If you or someone you know struggles with brain health challenges, I encourage you to get the resources you need. Whether getting plugged into a community or seeking help from a counselor, psychologist, doctor, or pastor, do not continue to suffer in silence.If you or someone you know is in a crisis, dial 988 if you are in the U.S. or contact your local emergency services line.


[1] Ahola, K., Hakanen, J., Perhoniemi, R., & Mutanen, P. (2017). Relationship between burnout and depressive symptoms: A study using the person-centred approach. Burnout Research, 3(2), 29-37.

[2] “Burnout Is About Your Workplace, Not Your People.” (2019). Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2019/12/burnout-is-about-your-workplace-not-your-people

[3] Maslach, C., & Leiter, M. P. (2016). Understanding the burnout experience: Recent research and its implications for psychiatry. World Psychiatry, 15(2), 103-111.

[4] Schaufeli, W. B., Bakker, A. B., & Van Rhenen, W. (2009). How changes in job demands and resources predict burnout, work engagement, and sickness absenteeism. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30(7), 893-917.

[5] Shanafelt, T. D., & Noseworthy, J. H. (2017). Executive leadership and physician well-being: Nine organizational strategies to promote engagement and reduce burnout. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 92(1), 129-146.

Picture of Craig Booker

Craig Booker

I'm the founder of Overflow. Through its newsletter, podcast, community group, and YouTube channel, Overflow helps you improve your well-being.


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