How to Prevent Burnout and Prioritize Your Health

A woman sits at her computer, looking exhausted with her face resting on her hand

Stress is an inevitable part of life, but learning how to prevent burnout can help you stay motivated and find peace during the chaos.

In today’s fast-paced world that recently went through a very stressful pandemic, more and more people are experiencing burnout. It can happen to anyone, but healthcare workers and first responders are particularly affected.

Burnout occurs when chronic stress goes unmanaged. During the pandemic, staffing shortages, limited resources, and childcare struggles all contributed to feelings of being overwhelmed. There are many symptoms of burnout such as lack of motivation, exhaustion and isolation. Often, negative feelings about work and job performance occur as well.

Prevent Burnout with Self-care

Typically, burnout starts by taking care of everyone but yourself. When you have little time left for you, things can unravel. Follow these basic principles to prevent burnout in its tracks and manage stress by prioritizing self-care.

Choose Healthy Foods

Food is fuel, and you must fuel your body for what you need to get through the day. Many times, parents skip eating in the morning because they are so busy getting breakfast ready for their kids. People often work through lunch because the workload is high. Often, dinner is a fast food sandwich while carting the kids off to where they need to be. Make sure your meals are also a priority by prepping and planning for the week ahead.


Stop thinking of exercise as something you “have to do” and try thinking of it as something you “get to do.” Exercise has been shown to reduce stress and release endorphins to make you feel good. Make physical activity a priority in your daily routine. If you are struggling to carve out time, find quick breaks during the day to sneak activity in, whether it’s a short walk outside or a seated aerobics routine.

Set Boundaries

Many people struggle with overcommitment. Think before you say yes to requests and activities. Agreeing to everything can lead to feeling overstressed and overworked. Saying no occasionally will give you more time to prioritize self-care. You should also set clear boundaries with yourself and your routine.

For example:

  • Don’t check your work email during dinner
  • Leave Sundays as a work-free day
  • Dedicate a day to meal prepping and planning
  • Reserve at least half an hour each day for relaxing activities

Take a Break

Rest and relaxation are key to preventing burnout. Ten minutes devoted to meditation or a calming activity in the middle of the day can give your body a chance to reset. Breaks will do wonders for your mental health. If you need more than a few minutes to recalibrate, try taking a day off in the middle of the week or devote a few hours during the weekend to “me time.”

Ask for Help

You can’t do it all. As you continue to take on task after task, your stress will compound. Talk to your manager about your workload or ask a co-worker for help on your next project. At home, enlist the help of your partner and kids to tackle household duties so they don’t pile up. Consider finding a therapist to help you work through stress. Many times, workplaces offer mental health care options in their benefits packages.

Find a Strategy That Works for You

Not every stress management strategy works for all people, so don’t compare yourself to others. Find what works best for you. Do you reduce stress by walking, doing yoga or journaling? Find a healthy outlet before you turn to junk food or alcohol.

Above all, know that burnout it real and it can have a severe impact on your overall health and wellbeing. Step back and assess your mental health these last few weeks. Are you managing stress and finding ways to stay motivated?

For more tips on prioritizing self-care and preventing burnout, check out this previous post on the YWM Blog about Taking Care of Your Emotional Wellness.

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