How to Overcome Burnout and Keep Motivated

how to recover from a burnout | sunday chapter

I feel like burnout is something we all experience at one point in our lives. Doing what you love or committing yourself fully means you completely dedicate yourself to the cause and your work. And it’s amazing, really. Sometimes I work 16 hour days but I truly LOVE it, otherwise I wouldn’t have survived until now.

But it can also be exhausting. Painfully exhausting.

The kind of exhausted where you can’t think, move or in my case, even consider gathering the strength to look at another computer screen.

You’re entirely burned out.

I’ve found myself in that position many times. I think it’s very common in a job where you set your own hours. How do you know when to stop? Through experience I’ve learned that it’s ESSENTIAL that you also take the proper steps to care for yourself.

A few months ago, I was very seriously burned out. I had enough. I had no motivation, inspiration or creativity left which is quite terrifying given a lot of my job relies on creativity and new ideas. But I just couldn’t hack it. I was working 60 or more hours a week and my body was starting to give up. I had to make some serious changes to my work ethic and calendar if I wanted to be happy, productive and healthy.

Have you ever been in this situation? Really not ideal.

I’m still working on it myself, and there are undoubtedly times when I push too hard but I’d like to say I’ve come a long way. Sometimes burnout is inevitable due to unforeseen events, but there are ways you can help control it.

First things first, you have to accept it. You really can’t stay in denial thinking you’re just tired. If you’re burned out, it’s more than just being tired. You’re emotionally, physically & mentally exhausted. It’s when you experience lack of motivation, chronic stress and a constant negative attitude, and if you leave it, it can wreak havoc on your health. Once you accept it, then you can get to work on it.

Here’s a few ways in which I deal with a burn out.

Take some time off. I know, the most generic and typical response but also the most imperative. Given it’s importance, it’s something people still ignore (myself included) and push back. I’ve learned that breaks are actually a good thing and you shouldn’t feel guilty for taking time away for yourself. It’s not selfish, it’s essential. If your best friend, mother or sibling was going through a burnout, would you want them to take a break? Treat yourself the way you would treat others. You need breaks to evaluate your position, where you are, where you want to go and how you’re going to get there (ideally without forsaking your sanity). Fill this time with things you love. Spend time with loved ones, eat good food, visit new places, learn new things, or tick something off your bucket list. Bring back the good into your life.

Schedule. I really can’t count the ways or times a calendar and effective schedule has saved my life. I’m kind of OCD psycho because I plan everything down to the smallest details but that’s just what works for me. I don’t work well (or at all) when there’s no structure and system to my day. I’m all over the place like a full on mess, honestly. I think I’ve mentioned roughly 9396747 times before (maybe more?) that I use Google Calendar to time block my day/week/month/life. It has everything from content planning, meetings, reading, eating, & so on. You get the idea. I would highly advise everyone who is easily victim to burnout to schedule and plan time spent on each project. Allow enough time for 8 hours of sleep a night, make sure you’re keeping healthy, seeing friends, getting outside, & allocating yourself free time.

Plan a mini vacation. There’s no doubt I’m most inspired when I’m traveling or away from home. New sights, sounds, plans, people and routines all attribute towards this. I like a constant change and it’s one of the best ways I break out of any kind of rut. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just get away, plan a short staycation even if it’s just for the weekend, & let your mind recover. Do nothing or do everything, it doesn’t matter – just get away. Don’t think about what has burned you out. I will ALWAYS come back with a fresh perspective on things.

how to recover from a burnout | sunday chapter

Ask for help. Everyone needs help at one point or another, it’s completely understandable. I’m annoyingly stubborn at times and I prefer to handle everything myself, so asking for help is not something I particularly enjoy. But sometimes it’s necessary, especially if you’re taking on too much. And it’s definitely not something you should ever feel ashamed or guilty to ask for.

Learn to say “no.” Many of us feel compelled to agree every request even if we are left with no time to ourselves. Perhaps it’s because we don’t want to disappoint, or be disliked and criticized – regardless, I think it’s important to learn how to say no. Don’t wait until your energy runs out before you take a step back. No one has infinite time and resources so choose your priorities carefully. This is a great article if you struggle with saying no.

Digital detox. Scrolling endlessly through social media or constantly checking for updates 24/7 can be a real energy drainer. Set aside some time on the weekend to leave your phone and laptop at home. Every few weeks on a Sunday I tend to completely disconnect from the online world. I don’t even take my phone out with me and although it’s difficult, it makes Monday a lot easier to deal with. I always feel so much more motivated & focused after some time away. Allow your brain some recharge time – it does wonders, honestly.

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  • Jemma

    This is exactly what I need right now. Thanks for sharing.
    P.s I love the photo props in this

    • Thank you Jemma!! So happy it could help :) how cute are they!!! xx

  • Around Colours

    This would’ve been so helpful when I was in school. Now, I see these things more reasonably and I learned to take better care of myself, but one day I might need to be reminded of this. We humans are always on edge and that’s not good. Thank you for writing this post :)

    Marta –

    • I’m actually the opposite! I was so carefree in school, I definitely didn’t take it serious enough haha. Going into work life, social media in particular, I’ve experienced burnout far too often. Thank you for reading Marta!! xx

  • my mum runs her own business whilst working at her old job for around 15 hours a week which means she has been working 60+ hours a week for years and years and the only reason why she is still going strong is because she takes her time off and leaves the office when her work is done. allowing myself time off is something i really had to learn because i tend to do more than i actually can and having a day to myself leaves me so much more motivated on the next day.

    • Wow she is killing it! I totally agree!! Having a time to “switch off” at night and leave your work is SO important, especially when working for yourself. I always feel guilty for taking breaks but I agree, leaves you so much more motivated :) !! xx

  • I’ve been tossing around the idea of taking a digital detox day every once in a while. I think you definitely convinced me! My brain definitely needs to take a break from all of the constant information.

    Carrie |

    • Digital detoxes are the best! Even if it’s just for a day, once or twice a month. They leave you feeling so refreshed! xx

  • Megan McCormick

    Having a staycation (whether a weekend or an afternoon) is so important to give yourself some much needed R&R. Burnout is so real in this day and age because we’re all told that we need to be kept busy. Thank you so much for writing this and bringing attention to much needed self-care (digital detox, acceptance, and rest!). Great read!

    • Aw thank you Megan!! couldn’t agree with you more. Staycations are so underrated!! xx

  • Stephanie Hartley

    I’ve suffered with burnout too by working from home part time. I find that because I enjoy what I do I feel like I can keep going right up until I fall asleep, then wake up adn get straight back to it. Obviously this is a really bad idea, and I’ve found that setting myself a strict ‘no work after 10pm’ rule has really helped me to ensure I get a bit of time to relax before bed

    Steph –

    • I find myself doing the same thing!! So hard to set a switch off time when you work from home, but it helps so much. Thank you for reading Stephanie! xx

  • Kat G

    I think I’ve experienced sorts of burnout before. Usually it leaves me very crabby, which is bad because my day job is in customer service, where you have to be cheerful or else the customers start leaving comments about how they bothered you. Taking days off as serious days off is definitely important. If it’s your day off, make sure everyone knows that it’s YOUR day, and then leave it.

    • I used to work in customer service so I can definitely relate! It’s a tough gig to act bubbly & happy when you’re so exhausted. Breaks saved me too!! So important to have time to yourself for R&R :) Thanks for reading Kat! xx

  • I love these tips! I always try to do a mini digital detox on the weekend, and just stay off my phone and computer for hours at a time. I really also love the idea of a stayvacation! What a great way to relax in familiar places and just schedule time to relax!

    Characters & Carry-ons

    • Thank you so much Joyce!! Digital detoxes are the BEST, I think I’m in need of one soon!! xx

  • Natalie Redman

    Some great tips here which are so handy when you are feeling bogged down. I just hope one day I’m in a position where I can work my own hours centred around my blog!

    • Thank you Natalie! You can get there – just takes a lot of patience & consistency :) xx

  • These are great tips. I’ve been struggling and kind of bouncing between being really motivated and being burnt out. It feels like a rollercoaster that is only getting faster. So I’m going to bookmark this post and come back to it and try to really focus on a few of the points. Thanks!

    Aisling | anthologie.

    • Thank you Aisling! I feel the same, it’s so easy to get caught up in it all. I think you just need to take a bit of a break & re-assess your goals. Find what keeps you motivated :) Also I’ve found podcasts help a lot!! xx

  • I love this article. I don’t think I’m in a burnout right now but I’m certainly headed towards one. I can feel it in my body and mindset. I haven’t been time blocking lately but have thought about starting to again to get structure back into my day. I also have a digital detox once a month because living on screens can be seriously draining. Thank you for sharing these tips!

    • Thank you so much Christine! It’s so good you can catch it early and avoid it. I think you’re in need of a break or change of routine!! I totally agree, it’s crazy how much social media/technology can drain you! xx

  • Pear Phongsawad

    Really great article and wonderful tips! When working 60+ hours week, I easily feel drained and lose motivation easily too. I truly believe in your tip for saying no and not taking every opportunity but prioritizing health and sanity

    Thanks again for sharing!


  • Rachael Dickinson

    Great post – great tips! I work all the time lately so sometimes having the motivation to blog is tough!!

    Rachael xox

  • Lorena

    Loved this article! The tips, the topic, the photos, everything! And yes, we can’t help ourselves when we’re in denial!

  • Awesome tips. Thanks for sharing!