Home Psychology The five stages of burning out and how to recover from them

The five stages of burning out and how to recover from them

Last update: Sep 7
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Overthinking woman

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Everyone is capable of suffering from burnout once in a while.

Whether it’s the stress of work or social factors – we are all at risk.

The problem for many is – what is ‘burning out,’ how can we track it, and most importantly, how do we overcome it?

Health Insider has broken down the five stages of burning out and how you can recover from them – so if this sounds like you, read on to find out more!

First, what is burning out?

The subject has been debated among industry professionals for some time now.

In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) clarified burnout as a syndrome that stems from an occupational phenomenon.

This condition is a syndrome — not a medical diagnosis — caused by “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed,” according to the WHO. 

In this context, external factors, such as workplace dysfunction, are primarily to blame for burnout.

Burnout can affect your mental, physical and emotional state. 

The feelings of burnout typically occur when you’re overwhelmed at work and feel as if you can no longer keep up with the rigors of your job.

Stress vs. Burnout – Don’t confuse burnout with stress. 

Stress is having too much on your plate – too much work to handle, too many responsibilities, too many hours spent working. 

Burnout is the opposite. You typically feel like you don’t have enough – not enough motivation, not enough energy, not enough care. 

You may be at a higher risk of burnout if you have poor self-esteem, unrealistic expectations in the workplace, or aren’t comfortable coping with stressors.

You may also experience burnout at a higher rate if your job requires a heavy workload, is understaffed, has conflicts in the workplace, or doesn’t reward work when there is a job well done.

So let’s break down the five stages of burning out and the tools available to help you overcome it.

Middle aged woman wondering

1. The Honeymoon Phase

Like a honeymoon phase in a marriage, this stage comes with energy and optimism. Whether starting a new job or tackling a new task, it’s familiar to experience satisfaction that leads to periods of productivity and the ability to tap into your creative side.

Picture yourself on the first few days of your dream job, and things are going great. You have new, friendly colleagues, and everyone has time for the ‘newbie’ of the office.

Your responsibilities feel more relaxed as you settle into your new role – but all good things must end.

2. The Onset of Stress Phase

Eventually, the honeymoon phase dwindles, and you begin to experience stress. Not every second of your day is stressful, but there are more frequent times when stress takes over. 

As this stage begins, take notice of any physical or mental signs. You may lose focus more quickly or be less productive when completing tasks. 

Physically, fatigue can start to set in, making it more difficult to sleep or enjoy activities outside of work – you may choose to shut yourself inside instead of interacting with friends or family.

3. The Chronic Burnout Phase

You’ll reach a point where the stress becomes more persistent or chronic. As the pressure mounts, the stress is likely to affect your work consistently. 

Examples include feelings of apathy, not completing work on time, being late for work, or procrastinating during tasks. Socially, you may withdraw from everyday work-related conversations. 

In other cases, you may become angry and lash out at coworkers. Sometimes, these feelings follow you home and affect relationships with friends and family.

These signs are all examples; it is not to say that everyone will experience the same – but these are common indicators of burning out.

Man working afterhours

4. The Burnout Phase

This phase is when you reach your limit and can no longer function as you usually would. Problems at work consume you to the point where you obsess over them. 

At times, you may also feel numb and experience extreme self-doubt. Physical symptoms will become intense, leading to chronic headaches, stomach issues, and gastrointestinal problems. 

Friends and family members may also notice behavioral changes, whether for better or worse.

It might be time to start thinking about external help as your life begins to feel consumed with stress, worries, and negativity.

We will discuss a tool we found to have significant benefits for people suffering with burnout later in the article.

5. The Habitual Burnout Phase

If left untreated, burnout can become a part of your everyday life and eventually lead to anxiety or depression. You can also experience chronic mental and physical fatigue that prevents you from working. 

Your job status may be put in jeopardy if you continue on this path, so it is vitally important that you speak out and find the right way to work on yourself.

Woman overwhelmed

How to recover from burnout?

We researched long and hard on the best possible solutions for recovering from burnout, and we recommend trying an app called Sensa.

There is no need to spend a vast sum of money or take time off work (especially if things are already a struggle there) for therapy.

You can begin your recovery from the ease and comfort of your mobile.

Sensa is branded as your mental health assistant that experts design to provide ongoing therapy-based guidance.

The content is mainly based on CBT – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. One of the most commonly used and proven techniques to cure/improve mental health conditions.

The app comes with some handy features to help you stay on top of things, including their 84-day plan, tailored to your own needs.

When signing up for a plan, you will be asked some questions about your current state of mind (it is best to answer these as truthfully as possible to maximize the help on hand.)

Each day, you will have new reading materials and tasks to complete, one day at a time.

You will also be introduced to Sensa’s other features, like the mood journal, activities, and quick release options.

Activities are a neat way to plan your day, with four categories: Healthy, mindfulness, relaxation, and physical – or you can create your own.

Over time, Sensa aims to change your outlook on everyday thoughts – helping you manage your work tasks or work balance more efficiently.

Feeling burnt out can be a dark place to be in, and without the correct help of guidance, it may be hard to see a way out.

But Sensa can provide you with everything you need to help you get back to your best and start thinking positively again.

Want to try it yourself?

Sensa can help with a range of mental health issues you may be experiencing, so the best way to get their help is to answer the free quiz on their website.

The questions are non-intrusive, and it is best to answer them as honestly as possible to get the best plan for you.

Click Here to Start the Free Sensa Quiz, and See How They Can Help You
Click Here to Start the Free Sensa Quiz
Results may vary due to personal features
Written by
Edibel Quintero, MD

Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel's goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.

Overthinking woman

Comments (3)

  1. avatar
    17 Mar, 2022 at 6:59 pm

    A compelling article about the struggles of stress and burnout. I fear they are topics that aren’t spoken about enough in today’s world – but many of us struggle with it daily. Lovely to see there are tools out there to help you on the journey to recovery.

  2. avatar
    18 Mar, 2022 at 6:02 am

    I hadn’t heard of the term ‘burning out’ before, but it sounds like it’s speaking directly to me. Life has been hard to deal with; the constant stress of work, in particular, has me in a chokehold. I will give Sensa a try. Thank you for bringing this to light.

  3. avatar
    18 Mar, 2022 at 9:40 am

    Burning out is not spoken about enough. It can ruin lives and careers. So pleased to see it is being highlighted here, so thanks for that. I will be sure to give Sensa a try.


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