Feeling extra worn out? You’re not alone.
It’s not surprising that in this nonstop, always-on world, a staggering 85% of adults admit to feeling overwhelmed by their responsibilities at work and home.
Burnout is real, and it’s happening to more people than ever. It can manifest as physical exhaustion, mental fatigue, and emotional depletion. When you’re in the throes of burnout, it can feel like there is no end in sight.
But there’s hope! So, how long does it take to recover from burnout? Let me explain…
My Burnout Experience
Let me backup and share my experience… When I began my career as a full-time corporate tech marketing executive, I was full of passion and energy.
Every morning, I’d wake up excited about the challenges ahead, ready to tackle projects and help drive my team and company forward.
But in tandem with my stressful and hectic work life, I was also training for Ironman—a grueling triathlon that pushes the human body to its limits. I was training two hours during the week before work and up to 5 hours Saturday & Sunday. (I did this over and over and over…for years!)
The combination of my corporate responsibilities and the physical demands of Ironman training seemed like the perfect formula for success, at least initially. But I was on a path I hadn’t seen before, one that led straight to burnout.
This exhaustion led to a whole slew of health issues resulting in me battling chronic autoimmune issues and non-stop migraine headaches. (You can read all about how I healed here!)
5 Things I Learned from Burning Out
But, as I reflect on my journey of recovery, I want to share five l lessons I learned along the way…and if you’re struggling out there, I pray this helps you!
1. You Often Don’t Recognize Burnout Until It’s Too Late
For me, at first, it started as fatigue. I quickly brushed it off, attributing it to my long 20-hour-a-week Ironman training sessions.
But then, my enthusiasm for work started waning. I had always loved my job, but I suddenly found myself dreading the office – or worse, so brain-dead that I couldn’t concentrate to get any work done! Deadlines that once excited me now made me anxious and burdened.
Looking back at what I know now, I was in serious denial. If this sounds like you, do not wait until burnout manifests as physical ailments or chronic conditions. (like me).
Here’s how to spot it early….
- Feeling tired non-stop, even after a good night’s sleep? That’s a clue.
- If you’re snapping quickly or suddenly dreading tasks you once loved, take note.
- Can’t focus or keep forgetting things? Another heads-up.
Burnout isn’t one big warning; it’s a mix of little signals of your body trying to get your attention.
2. Burnout Can Evolve into Chronic Illness
This was the wake-up call. After a few months into feeling “off”, I started experiencing frequent migraines, which developed into chronic everyday migraines & pain.
Then, my immune system weakened, making me susceptible to illnesses that took longer than usual to shake off. It wasn’t years later that I learned the mystery symptoms I was experiencing was Lupus.
It wasn’t just mental or emotional fatigue; my body was signaling its distress turning on my gene expressions for autoimmune disease. Now that those genes are turned on, I’ll never be able to turn them off per se, but by following a healing protocol, I’ve been able to put it in remission. AMEN!
But I’ll tell you firsthand that prolonged stress and burnout can have lasting impacts on our physical health. Don’t roll the dice on this one…
3. Recovery Isn’t Linear and Takes Time
Recovery from burnout, especially when it led to chronic conditions, wasn’t a straightforward path. Some days I felt my old energy returning, only to be slammed with exhaustion the following day. Gut issues & migraines would flare up, and some days I just had to stay in bed and do nothing. (Forced rest!)
It was a roller coaster of emotions and energy levels, and it took a good three years for me to feel like my old self again.
Everyone’s journey is different. Some folks might bounce back quicker, especially if they’re just a tad worn out. But for those who are really deep in the thick of it, bouncing back can take a bit longer.
Plus, outside factors play a role too: supportive friends, understanding bosses, or even just getting some professional guidance can help speed things up. (I highly recommend a great therapist!)
The mind and body need time to heal, to re-energize, and to rediscover balance. Don’t rush the process. (It took me about 9 months to heal from the inside out!)
Healing is a marathon, not a sprint!
4. Prioritizing Self-Care is Key
Recovery for me meant learning to reprioritize myself. While Ironman training had its place, I was forced to scale back and listen to my body, giving it the rest it desperately craved. Which turned out to be the biggest blessing in disguise…. Although, at the time, it was devastating.
During my chronic illness battle and healing journey, you know what I’ve realized?
Setting boundaries is like putting up safety rails for your mind and body. It’s all about telling yourself (and others!) what you can and can’t handle right now. (And being honest about it!) You’re not made to do everything, and that’s OK!
Think of it as self-preservation. I mean, we wouldn’t keep driving a car that’s running on fumes, right? The same goes for our energy.
Learning to say “no” or “not right now” has been a game-changer for me. It’s not about being selfish; it’s about taking care of myself so I can eventually be there for others again.
Remember, it’s okay to prioritize yourself sometimes! 😊(I promise!)
5. Recovery is Possible with the Right Support
You know what really got me to the other side? My therapist.
I was in denial for so long that I didn’t think I needed therapy or was ‘crazy’ enough to seek mental help… but I was wrong! (Really wrong!) My therapist didn’t just offer advice; she was my guiding light, helping me sift through the mental clutter, making sense of things when I was about to hit a dead-end.
I thank God every day for my husband, who stood by and encouraged me every step of the way. Because, you know what, it was hard on him too. And sometimes, we forget that we greatly affect those around us when we’re spiraling down. Paul, thanks for being my rock…
And I can’t forget about my family and friends – they were like my personal cheer squad, always on standby, pom-poms in hand, ready to pep me up whenever I hit a slump. Their texts, calls, and surprise coffee drops were like mini energy boosters, reminding me I wasn’t alone. And you aren’t either!
Lean into those who lift you up and support you on the journey…. The right support system can make all the difference.
The Wrap – Recovering From Burnout
My road to getting better? Whew, it was no walk in the park. But, man, did it teach me to really tune into what my body and brain were yelling at me?
Here’s the thing—while chasing our big dreams, let’s not forget that our well-being is like the golden ticket. If we don’t have our health, we don’t have ANYTHING.
Burnout is real, and trust me, it can hit hard. But bouncing back is totally doable. If you’re reading this and thinking, “Uh-oh, is that burnout knocking on my door?”—take my story as a little warning bell…
Remember to put YOU at the top of your to-do list. Why? ‘Cause you’re totally worth it!
I’m cheering you on.
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