How to find motivation when you are burned out?

Amidst this global crisis that is causing mayhem and has consumed the attention of everyone, I wanted to write about burnout and my personal experience with this.

I recently suffered burnout by not exercising enough self-care and under playing the three major things that had happened in my life in the last 5 months. One was moving from my family home of 15 years to another home, the second was my ex-husband moving to another country and leaving me as the sole carer to our two kids and third was that my divorce was eventually finalized after a lengthy legal process. 

Even if you love your job and believe that you are coping adequately, it’s still possible to experience burnout from time to time. Burnout is the mental and physical exhaustion you experience when the demands of your work consistently exceed the amount of energy you have available. It has been called an epidemic of the modern workplace and life as we know it in this digital age.

Most of us want to have a successful career and earn a good income for ourselves and our families which requires lots of hard work and effort. This single-minded pursuit of success sometimes results in us taking on too much of work without even stopping to take a break. When you reach this point of exhaustion where you work without taking care of your brain and body, you will experience burnout. And as you can imagine, this can be very detrimental for your body. I was so physically and mentally exhausted at the peak of my burnout, that I found myself sleeping until late afternoon over a period of several days unable to get out of bed.

Burnout often stems from a lack of understanding about what it takes to achieve peak performance. We tend to assume that it requires trying harder or performing better than others which may get you short-term results but is unsustainable. To perform at your best over the long term, you need regular opportunities to restore your mental energy. A walk in the park or lunch away from your desk are simple examples of things you could do to allow some mental energy restoration. Personally, I love walking with my dog in the woods.

What are the 5 stages of burnout?

One thing to note is that every person experience burnout differently. Despite this, in most cases there are 5 key stages of burnout that you can experience.

First, there’s the Honeymoon phase when we take on a new task and we experience a high amount of job satisfaction. This is where we commit to working hard and our energy goes mostly into that.

Next there’s the Onset of stress phase, when you start to become aware that some days are more difficult than others. Your enthusiasm starts to waiver and you start to experience some symptoms of stress.

The third stage of burnout is Chronic stress. This is where you start to lose motivation and experience stress on an extremely frequent basis.

The fourth stage is when you enter the Burnout phase where your symptoms are so critical that you find it impossible to continue as normal and need some intervention to relieve the stress.

The final stage of burnout is referred to as Habitual burnout. This is where the symptoms of burnout are fully integrated and embedded into your daily life, often causing significant physical and emotional problems.

How long does it take to recover?

The time to recover from burnout mostly depends on the person and their ability to respond to the intervention. Some people will recover from burnout within a few days or a week. Others can take weeks to get back on track. If you’re motivated to take better care of yourself and eliminate burnout from your life, chances are that you can do so without any problems. It will require commitment from your side, but it’s certainly worth it!

Motivation when burned out

One of the best things that you can do when you are burnt out is to motivate yourself and improve the way you take care of yourself. Most of the time being burnt out can have a negative impact on your personal life, hygiene and the way you connect with others. Thankfully, if you stay motivated you can improve all of these, while also lowering the amount of burnout you experience all the time.

Once you understand the early warning signs of burnout and know what the causes are, it will be easier to take steps to deal with the issue. We also recommend that you work in increments, split tasks so things won’t be as demanding. Sharing some of the work with others, delegating or outsourcing can also help a lot.

It’s crucial to take breaks as well, because your body and mind need to relax a bit, you can’t be stressed out and working all the time. In fact, you need to have a life outside of work and unplug as much as possible. For some people it can be going out with others, there are also persons that have a hobby and other forms of recreation and relaxation.

Also, if you want to motivate yourself when burnt out, ditch all the bad habits. And you can go even further by improving your daily routine and cleverly taking it to the next level. Try to be more focused on positive things and you will be incredibly impressed on how your life can change.


As you can see, getting motivated when you experience burnout can be very difficult. But the best thing you can do is to make as many changes as you can earlier on, in order to improve your situation and proactively try to prevent this from happening. Take breaks, be more organized, sleep at least 7-8 hours a night, have a life outside work and focus more on taking care of yourself. All these things can actually make a huge difference in the long run. Take ownership of your situation and creatively find ways to integrate values, passion and strengths into your work.

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