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  • Writer's pictureCait Donovan

#straightfromcait: How Do You Recover From Burnout While Still Working?

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

It would be incredible if everytime you were burned out, you could stop working and run off to rest in a magical Cinderella fantasyland where talking mice take care of all your problems. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for most of us. It is not always possible to stop working when you are burned out, and actually by staying, you may be doing yourself a favor in the long run. If you take a break from the toxic environment that was causing your burnout and then try to go back when you are feeling better, it is likely you will end up burned out all over again. This is because regardless of how well rested you may feel, you did not take the time to do the work required to change the behavior that caused you to become burned out originally. In today’s #straightfromcait episode, Cait explains how to recover from burnout while still working and why it may actually be a good idea to continue working while healing from burnout in certain cases.

There are both internal and external burnout causes and it is important to take a look at all of them when assessing how to move forward with burnout recovery. Cait recommends doing an Internal/External Burnout Risk Factors Assessment which can be found on the FRIED website in order to determine first steps. Some internal factors to consider are people-pleasing behaviors and perfectionism, whereas external factors are things like micromanagement and mismatched values. By taking a look at what factors are actually influencing your burnout, you can narrow it down and pick the easiest place to begin making changes. Instead of trying to do everything all at once and maximize your burnout recovery, slow down and take a step back. Focus on just one burnout cause from the list and make one small shift in your life at a time. The caveat to this is that if the external causes of your burnout are due to an inherently toxic work environment, you will need to formulate an exit strategy eventually. It is not possible to completely recover from burnout in a work environment where your mental health is perpetually under attack.

If you are burned out and unable to leave your job even temporarily, there are still ways to work on burnout recovery. Determine which internal and external factors apply to you and start making small shifts in your life based on those results. This way you are making small, manageable changes and not taking too much away from your energy that it leaves you depleted at work. By making the necessary behavioral shifts while still in your work environment, you may have a more smooth transition into burnout recovery than if you had taken a break or left your job.


If you removed yourself from a situation that was requiring you to act in certain ways, and you didn't have to practice acting in better ways and shifting your behavior to protect yourself better, then when you go back into that environment you might not be prepared even if you're rested.” (4:58-5:16 | Cait)

If you can't take time off work, you might really be doing yourself a favor by staying and working through some sh*t on the fly.” (8:15-8:22 | Cait)

The trick here, once again, is to do the easiest thing first. Allow it to have impact, and then move to the next easiest thing on the list. If you fill out your list, and you're not sure how to tackle any of your items, choose one of them and ask the Facebook group for ways to shift that behavior.” (15:12-15:30 | Cait)

Asking for help and asking for other people's perspectives is one of the main ways we build resilience. So don't go this alone. If you're not sure what the answer is for you, let's do it together.” (15:36-15:49 | Cait)

You cannot long term stay in a toxic environment and heal fully from burnout. Your physical and mental health will continue to deteriorate. Your best bet is to do everything within your power within the situation and then use whatever energy you create by making those changes to formulate a graceful exit strategy.” (17:00-17:33 | Cait)

“You're not going to find motivation when you're burned out just by looking for it. You're going to create energy by caring for yourself differently and by shifting the way you interact with your environment.” (19:40-19:52 | Cait)




Need a speaker for your event? If you would love to book Cait for your event, connect with her here:

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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