top of page
  • Writer's pictureCait Donovan

#straightfromcait: How Long Will It Take Me To Recover From Burnout?

Updated: Sep 28, 2022

When we are on the road to burnout recovery, all of us have the same question: How long will my burnout recovery last? In my professional experience, I have found that the average recovery period lasts around 12-18 months, but the reality is that burnout recovery looks different for everyone. As much as you might want to look to others’ stories for guidance, your burnout journey will always be your own.

However, there are steps you can take along the way to ease the process. On today’s #straightfromcait episode, I will share my top three tips for facilitating a smooth burnout recovery. The journey will never be easy, but by doing one thing at a time, giving yourself grace and compassion and taking responsibility only for the portion that belongs to you, you can supercharge your recovery.

Plus, don’t forget to join the FRIED. The Burnout Podcast Discussion Group on Facebook! This discussion group is an excellent place for you to receive support along the road to recovery from those who understand it best. Remember to be kind to yourself and lean on others as much as you need to along the way.


  • “What I’ve seen in clients and patients over the years is that recovery runs anywhere from about three months for burnout light situations to about two years or even longer.” (1:45-1:58)

  • “When I say only do one thing at a time, what I mean is, do not overhaul your diet, go back to work and start meditating all on the same Monday. Burnout recovery works best in stages.” (2:25-2:37)

  • Give yourself grace….Everybody going through this process is on a different path, and you’ll all go through different burnout recovery stages at different times. There is no perfect order, no matter what anyone tells you about how this is supposed to unfold. Whatever order helps you to progress is the only order that matters in your life.” (5:45-6:13)

  • Grace, compassion, space, and kindness: give yourself those things as much as you can.” (6:50-7:00)

  • “Reach for a point where you know as well as you can how much of your burnout is internal...and how much is due to your workplace/environment/relationships.” (7:02-7:19)

  • Burnout recovery does not require diving into your past traumatic experiences….In the beginning of your recovery, the focus is on helping your body to rewire responses and habits related to being on nonstop alert. This can be done without any revisiting of old trauma.” (9:46-10:08)




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:


Caitlin Donovan 00:00

Hello FRIED fans. It's Cait Donovan here, the host of FRIED, the burnout podcast and we are going to talk about resilience today, people resilience.


And I'm going to start by saying that your body and your brain are naturally resilient. They constantly balance and rebalance themselves to maintain homeostasis, they adjust what needs adjusting, and you just continue about your day, none the wiser. But sometimes even naturally resilient, things break down, over use leads to system malfunctions and system malfunctions lead to states of dis ease. This is the same picture of what happens in our lives on the whole, you have a natural resilience that when you're burnt out has been somewhat depleted. And I say somewhat, because if it was completely depleted, you would not still be with us. So don't fear your resilience has not completely gone.


The stretch you can manage and the bounce back is lessened, your bandwidth might be narrower, your bounce back ability isn't as high as it used to be.

Caitlin Donovan 02:34

Journalist Diane Coutu, who contributed to the emotional intelligence series for Harvard Business Review, that will be linked in the show notes, don't worry, I found that there are three main characteristics of resilient people. And those are number one, they have a staunch acceptance of reality. Number two, they have strong values and a belief in the fact that life is meaningful. And number three, they have incredible powers of adaptability, and incredible ability to improvise. So you might think that it's surprising that resilient people aren't always the most positive in the group. It turns out that those who choose to look only at the positive and not take real stock of the situation, often find themselves ill equipped to handle reality. One of the most important things in my work is honesty. It's really difficult to be honest with yourself, when you've been alive at least a few decades.

Every decision that you've made has been justified 100 times over. And you've started to believe the stories that you tell yourself. This is one of my favorite things about coaching, finding people's truths, and allowing them space to recognize those truths and accept those truths. I didn't realize that all this time that by doing this, I was helping people to expand their capacity for resilience by helping them accept the truths of themselves and the truth of their reality. I just do it felt good, felt relieving and helped people feel seen, heard and validated, and often led to change that was unexpected. So the next thing on the list is strong values and believing in the fact that life is meaningful. When you're burned out hearing that believing life is meaningful leads to more resilience might feel a little overwhelming and a little bit out of reach.

But this is where the living according to your core values exercise that's available on my website is useful. It is incredibly difficult to have a meaningful life if you aren't aware of what your true values are. This in my book is one of the main reasons we burn out because we've adopted the values of our cultures and families without stopping to ask if they really suit us. Knowing your values and guiding your life by them creates feelings of meaningfulness naturally, so you don't need to just sit there and try to engender a sense of meaning. What you do have to do is lean into your core values and start living by those in order to find more meaning and increase your ability to be resilient. So yes, meaningfulness matters, but you're not going to go at it directly, you're going to go at it indirectly through values. Next on the resilience list is your ability to improvise. Yes, and improv classes for resilience building anyone. Next week's guest, Jim young turns to improv when he was burnt out, and it was part of his recovery journey. I loved that so much during our conversation. And now I love it all over again, because I'm learning that your ability to improvise can be built upon and matters to your overall resilience levels, you can become more agile by practicing. And because so many of us that have experienced burnout have forgotten what it feels like to have fun looking at you. I think improv classes are a great way to reintroduce fun, play vulnerability, and increase your resilience all at the same time. So now I feel like I need to find an improv studio that wants to support the podcast. Is there any Are there any improv studios online that anybody knows about that you can send to me that I can send people to? I mean, it's hard to find one for every city. But maybe there's some stuff happening online that that would be helpful. If you know something or have something, please send it my way, and I will share it with the audience. In addition to these characteristics, Diane Coutu uncovers one behavior that increases resilience, and this one is really going to hit you in the gut. ASKING FOR HELP. Yes, I said, asking for help. This absolutely threw me for a loop when I learned it, because my view of resilience was so individualized. But being resilient, is being adaptable and resourceful. If you aren't using all of the resources at your disposal, you're simply choosing to make life more difficult and decreasing your own resilience. I'm going to say that again in a different way, standing alone, because you think it makes you stronger weakens your resilience. Again, for the people in the back, standing alone, because you think it makes you stronger, weakens your resilience. Asking for help means that you're tapping into all of your available resources, which means that a solution is more likely to appear and that that solution is more likely to be easier to implement. On that note, I'm off to hire a virtual assistant. Just kidding. Or maybe not. It might be time for a virtual assistant that might be true. So asking for help. Practicing asking for help and learning how to ask for help will make you a more resilient person. When you are a more resilient person, you're less likely to be burnt out. When your resilience increases, your burnout decreases. So if you know that it's time for you to ask for help, then we should get on a call. We all know that 2020 was a shit show. And maybe you had higher hopes for 2021. But you're still in the same place you were a year ago. And you just need a change to happen as soon as possible. I totally get it. It took me years to make a decision to heal from my burnout. But in order to do so, I did have to ask for help. So if it's time for you, let's get together and make 2020 to bowl easier, a little more healthy, a little less fried, and a little more resilient. You'll find the link to book your call in the show notes. Until next time,


bottom of page