How to prevent habitual burnout

Active rest is a term mostly used by athletes. It means that during your workout, instead of sitting on a bench to rest, you are doing one of three things: stretching, hydrating, fine-tuning form. Active rest is sometimes referred to as active recovery, which is like going for a swim the day after a tough workout. [Read more here]

Active rest helps you recover faster after a hard workout. It keeps your muscles flexible, helps you maintain your exercise routine, and increases blood flow.

So how does it apply to companies? Of course, exercising is essential to everyone’s health, but this is not the topic I’m discussing here. In this article, I will go through what I’ve learned from active resting and how it can act as a curr to preventing burnout.

Why it’s important?

A Deloitte survey found that 77% of respondents have experienced burnout in their current job, and in May of 2019, the World Health Organization included burnout as an occupational phenomenon in the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases.

This is when nearly 70 percent of professionals feel their employers are not doing enough to prevent or alleviate burnout within their organization. 21 percent of respondents say their company does not offer any programs or initiatives to prevent or alleviate burnout.

Burnout can cause insomnia, fatigue, excessive stress, sadness, anger or irritability, heart disease, high blood pressure, and many more consequences. It also decreases productivity and makes you irritable or impatient. It affects physical and mental health and involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.

Designed by Maya Ealey

How does burnout happen?

Burnout can affect anyone, at any time in their lives. Anyone who feels overworked and undervalued is at risk for burnout.

It consists of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy. But burnout is not caused solely by stressful work or too many responsibilities at work. Other factors contribute to burnout. Burnout can be caused by one or all of the following life aspects:

  1. Work: Happens when one feels like they have little or no control over their work, feels a lack of recognition or reward for good work, is under unclear or overly demanding job expectations, does work that’s monotonous or challenging for a long duration, or works in a chaotic or high-pressure environment.
  2. Lifestyle: This is related to and caused by working too much, without enough time for socializing or relaxing, lack of close and supportive relationships, taking on too many responsibilities, without enough help from others, and not getting enough sleep.
  3. Personality Traits: Perfectionistic tendencies, pessimistic view of yourself and the world, the need to be in control, and reluctance to delegate to others are traits that have the potential to cause burnout in this category.

In a study on burnout by Winona State University, they suggest 5 stages for burnout: Honeymoon, Onset of Stress, Chronic Stress, Crisis, Habitual Burnout. The research suggests that in theory, if the patterns of coping are positive and adaptive, then you will remain in the honeymoon stage indefinitely. But few people manage to do so. Therefore, always consider yourself burnout.

Designed by Andy J. Miller

How to Remain in the Honeymoon Stage?

Everyone should start from within to cure burnout. Start with recognizing symptoms. Look for any bad trait or unhealthy lifestyle that could be the result of your burnout. Write everything down.

Then undo the damage. Many people believe they can reduce the breakout by reversing everything. This means, if they feel under so much pressure and are overworked, they believe that taking a long break to rest helps them get back to normal. This is true under one condition: You should decide which is best for you: active rest or passive rest.

After days of solid training, our muscles need to rest and repair. The same applies to our body and mind that have been under hard work for a while.

But keep in mind that taking rest doesn’t mean you should be sitting on the couch eating potato chips all day long. This, as you might imagine, won’t do you much good. Instead, an active rest day is meant to be a light or easy day where you’re still moving/working, but not at the intensity level you normally do.

During passive recovery, the body and mind stay completely at rest. It involves inactivity. Passive recovery is important and beneficial if you’re injured or mentally in pain. It is most beneficial when you’re in the crisis or habitual burnout phases.

If none of these circumstances apply to you, active recovery is considered a better option. Taking an active rest day will quicken your recovery, making you more efficient when you’re back to work — as long as you don’t overdo it.

Plus, it’ll help you feel less stressed and helpless after finishing a tough project or working hard to achieve your desired results at work.


Take care of your emotional and physical health by choosing the activities you want to perform in your rest time. Pick activities that actually refresh you and help you feel accomplished.

Feel responsible for what you do during your rest time and make it valuable to your mind, body, and soul. This is the most efficient way to prevent the crisis and the habitual burnout which are the last stages of burnout.