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  • Writer's pictureCait Donovan

Karina Schneider: How to Prepare for Your Return to Work after Burnout or Mental Health Leave

Karina Schneider spent nearly two decades working in a corporate environment prior to setting up her own private coaching and consulting practice with a focus on helping workplaces become spaces that support employee wellbeing. Now, as a reintegration coach, Karina consults with employees and their leaders as they navigate a return to work after a mental health leave. Karina is uniquely qualified to help both employees and employers through this process, as she has prior experience in the HR field and navigated her own return to work after seven months of leave for burnout recovery.

Whether you are returning from a longer FMLA leave, or even a shorter period of time, it is important to understand that your return to work is actually still part of the recovery process. Those first few days and weeks will be all about figuring out if you can apply what you learned during your time away to your work environment. You should not expect to have the same amount of energy that you had prior to your leave or try to push yourself too hard too fast. As part of recovery, those initial days are mostly about learning how to show up again and re-training your body for your work routine. Before even considering when to return to work, take time to think about what you have learned about yourself and what really matters to you. When you know what is most important to you, then you can set proper boundaries and advocate for yourself to your managers and HR team.

Pay close attention to signals from your body when you think about your return to work. Is your body telling you that now is the right time or are you feeling pressure or guilt from outside sources? It is critical for your burnout recovery and the prevention of future burnout that you go at your own pace and do not jump back full swing into work too quickly after a medical leave.


We're not going to talk about day one until we're clear what you've learned about yourself and what matters to you.” (15:03-15:09 | Karina)

We should create an environment where people feel like it's okay to just put a name to it that I struggle with ADHD, or I live with depression, or I went through burnout.” (23:48-23:59 | Karina)

As much as I advocate for the employee owning the planning, HR and line managers play a crucial role. And if they can do that together, even better.” (33:26-33:36 | Karina)

One of the biggest challenges they face in their first weeks is energy.” (34:44-34:48 | Karina)

I don't say that as a weakness of ‘I only can work three days a week’, but rather, ‘I choose to work three days a week’, because that's what's right for me and for my family.” (42:28-42:39 | Karina)


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If you know that it’s time to actually DO something about the burnout cycle you’ve been in for too long - book your free consult today:


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