My Experience of Burn Out + 6 Top Tips

Burn out is a term we hear a lot about online- and it can be caused by a number of different factors. Modern life is hectic, and many of us need to deal with family responsibilities, work stress, personal issues, mental health concerns and more.

I recently experienced burn out for the first time- and I couldn’t believe how much it affected me. From physical symptoms to mental health issues, I felt like I would never get over such a change in outlook.

For me, my burn out was mainly related to work stress. I had reached the 6 month mark in my freelance career, and I had adopted some very unhealthy work habits along the way.

I hadn’t given myself any considerable time off during that time, and work was creeping into my personal life at a rapid speed.

Sometimes, even when you know all the advice and you understand how to be healthy- you just slip into bad habits, and it can be hard to get on the right path again.

For me, my anxiety eventually kicked in and told me that something needed to change. For others, it might be fatigue, depression or other mental health concerns that push them into action.

In this post, I want to discuss the various aspects of burn out that I experienced. Alongside each point, I have included my top 6 tips to prevent burn out.

I am not a doctor or mental health professional. These are my experiences of self-diagnosed burn out, and should not be taken as medical advice. Check out the Mind website to seek urgent and non-urgent help.

1. Self-blame

One of the hardest aspects of burn out for me was self-blame. At first I thought I was just experiencing a bad bout of anxiety. However, when I realised I had burn out, I really blamed myself for it.

If this had been happening to anyone else, I would have advised them exactly how to avoid burn out. Once I realised what was wrong, it seemed so obvious.

My work habits from the past couple of months suddenly seemed so unhealthy, and I finally understood what had happened.

However, I had let everything build up over a long period of time, and so I didn’t manage to avoid it. I’m sure a lot of freelancers have made the same mistake when they first start their career too.

Top Tip

For me, looking up my symptoms online helped a lot. I would never normally recommend this, as I know it can be dangerous to start searching for answers online.

However, I read a fantastic, well-researched article about burn out and its various stages- and from here things started to improve.

Just having a “diagnosis” of some kind helped me understand that self-blame was completely normal- and that burn out is not my fault.

2. Anxiety

I have always experienced some anxiety in my life, but my anxiety really peaked as burn out hit me. I think in a way, my body was telling me that something was wrong- and that something needed to change.

I might have continued to work and push through the burn out, but my anxiety made that almost impossible. I had to stop what I was doing and just take time off everything to re-think my habits.

Although I have experienced anxiety in the past, this was unlike anything I’d felt before. My body and mind knew that I needed to make a change before I did!

Top Tip

My family helped so much when this anxiety took hold of me. They helped me come up with a plan and identify the factors in my life causing anxiety.

If you experience burn out, I really recommend surrounding yourself with loved ones as much as possible. I didn’t want to be alone, and so I spent most of my time with my family during the worst of my burn out.

Spending time with other people can really help to rationalise your thoughts and understand where your anxiety is coming from- whether it is caused by burn out or something else.

My sibling also helped me come up with a few useful anxiety management tools which will help me manage any issues in the future, too.

3. Loss of passion

For me, the passion I have for my freelance work is so important. I need to enjoy the majority of my work otherwise I won’t keep going with it. During burn out, I completely lost this passion- and this really scared me.

written on the floor "passion led us here"

I couldn’t get away from the thought that I had fallen out of love with my work, and I started to overthink my career. I’ve always loved writing, but suddenly the idea of doing it didn’t fill me with any joy.

Passion is such an important motivating factor, and my experience of burn out really removed all passion for me.

This is very common, and it can mean you’re not happy or- in my case- it might mean a few things need to change to re-inject that passion.

Top Tip

I’m now starting to get passion back for my work- and I love it again! I started by removing any jobs that were not in line with the work I want to do, and I reduced my client load to refocus my time.

I also took time off work, which really helped me feel excited to get back to my laptop- rather than dreading it.

I connected with a fellow freelancer and she also helped to remind me what I love about writing. I’ve recently started a few “passion projects” to enjoy writing just for the sake of writing- rather than for paying clients.

All of this has helped me fall back in love with my work and with the clients that I work with- and I can’t wait to find even more soon!

4. Overwhelm

I have struggled with overwhelm in the past, especially when my period is due or when I’m worried about something.

However, during burn out the overwhelm hit me hard!

Suddenly everything was too much for me, and I felt panicked about housework, sitting down to work, going out to the shop, making something for dinner… You name it, I was stressed about it!

Top Tip

To combat my overwhelm, I needed to come up with a plan.

My family helped me create a brain dump, writing down everything that was on my mind and taking the time to understand how to overcome these things.

I made a list of “essential” things I needed to complete- and I stopped putting pressure on myself about anything additional, such as social meet-ups.

With time, the overwhelm eased and I could start to take small steps towards “normality”.

5. Sleepiness

Since I started freelancing full-time, I’ve been working really hard to build up my work and client base.

This includes waking up early everyday, working on weekends and not giving myself enough time off. I failed to prioritise myself above my work when I needed it.

Feeling sleepy was the result- and when I burned out, I felt tired all the time. I tried to work through the sleepiness, but in the end I just had to give myself time to lie-in.

Now I am back to a normal working routine, and my body and mind really benefited from time to sleep and rest.

Top Tip

It seems simple, but to get over sleepiness I had to give in to it. I spent time watching TV on the sofa, napping and just letting myself sleep without an alarm.

This goes against all of my instincts, as I love to stick to an active and productive routine.

However, I needed to listen to my body and give it the time it needed to rest before diving back into my work with a clear mind.

6. Aches and pains

As well as mental health concerns, I also experienced some physical symptoms of burn out. I started to feel aches across my body, such as my jaw, shoulders and back.

This is a common sign of tension, and it made me even less inclined to stick to my normal routine.

My body needed me to get away from the computer and my desk- and actually take some time to relax and rest after months of working hard.

Top Tip

I recommend trying out yoga if you’re experiencing aches and pains. I’ve never been able to get into yoga and meditation, but these are two healthy habits I would like to implement post-burn out, even now that I feel better.

I followed a few videos that helped me focus on opening up my shoulders and back. I also tried out a 15 minute meditation to reduce my morning anxiety.

I think warm showers and baths are a great way to ease aches and pains, as well as giving yourself some time off and doing a bit of light exercise when you’re up to it.

Have you experienced burn out? What are your top tips to overcome burn out? Do you have any tips to deal with burn out or implement helpful self-care?

Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below πŸ™‚

Happy reading x

34 thoughts

  1. I think being overwhelmed was the big factor in my burn out, but it was because everything was going wrong and I had to jungle multiple complaints at the same time to get things sorted out. Left me very suicidal. Great post

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve not experienced burn out but as a fellow freelancer, I know what you mean about overwhelm and not prioritising time out. I took most of August 2022 off, and it’s done me the WORLD of good – a timely reminder that I work to live, not the other way around πŸ™‚

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  3. I’ve definitely felt burnout in the past and it was all work related. It wasn’t a pleasent time for me either, I was working a lot, I was carrying an injury from a ride in a spin bike, my iron levels were dangerously low & I was generally very depressed. πŸ˜”
    Looking back now I can see how much if a dark place I was in ‘I know I don’t ever want to go back there.
    Knowing the signs and being able to put the remedies into practice are two completely different things, but I thankfully the more talked about it is, the better able we are to actually do something to prevent burnout we all are. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry to hear you experienced that Sarah. I completely agree, it can be hard to put the right habits in place- even when you know what they are! I’m glad you’re no longer in that dark place, I’m sure your healthy habits will help you avoid burn out in the future x

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  4. A very honest post, and beautifully written too. Burn-out must be a common symptom of going freelance, because you always feel that there is more you should be doing… I’m feeling that anyway. I had Covid recently, and was left exhausted, it did give me the opportunity to press pause before stress kicked in, and for that I am grateful. Your tips are very useful. I certainly meditate, at least once a week for half an hour, it really does help shift perspective on things. I also take time to watch shows and chill during a lunch break, and going for a walk clears the mind. Since going freelance I feel far more cluttered, but sometimes there are things that might seem important but when you stop and let them go, you realise that they are not missed. I hope you get back to enjoying writing, I am back with it again, and amongst the things I write there is a script which I am doing just for fun, just for me, and it helps. Wishing you well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I also found that the only positive of having Covid earlier this year was that it gave me a chance to sit back and realise what was important. I don’t think we realise how fast-paced our lives are until we stop.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you so much Zac πŸ™‚ I completely agree, the freelance lifestyle can be quite cluttered and you’re doing lots of different jobs at once. However, your suggestions are excellent ways to manage a work/life balance and enjoy your writing. The passion is coming back, I think working on projects that are just for me have helped too. πŸ™‚

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  5. I’m so sorry you had to go through this. It sounds absolutely exhausting. Thank you so much for sharing these amazing tips, I think they’ll benefit everyone who reads this post. This is a really beautifully written post and I think a lot of people, myself included, will appreciate you being so open and honest. I hope your okay lovely Xo

    Elle – ellegracedeveson.com

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much Elle, I’m doing well now πŸ™‚ it’s hard but definitely helped me to learn how to be healthy when I balance my work- and I’ve got back on the right path now! I hope this helps you and others, thank you for your kind words as always ❀️

      Like

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