How to help a burnt out person: 10 useful ways to help

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Seeing our loved ones in distress is never fun, but if you’re looking to figure out how to help someone who is suffering from burnout, know that there are things you can do to ease their stress.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with work and caregiving responsibilities, no matter what your age or profession. Learning to balance and manage our stress is key to staying healthy. However, burnout is a serious condition that often requires time, patience, and sometimes outside help such as therapy or counseling, to overcome.

If you see a loved one suffering from burnout, it can be difficult to know what you can do to help them recover from the burnout and prevent it from happening again in the future. To find out how to help a burnout person, we spoke with a team of mental health experts, who put together practical actions you can take to be there for a loved one in need.

How to help a burnt out person

1. See them face to face

If you approach someone suffering from burnout, it is important that you try to see them. Not only does this show that you care about their well-being, but it can be easier to gauge how someone is doing than if you had to have a conversation on the phone.

“Good relationships with ourselves and with others are important. Social contact is the natural remedy for stress,” says Sarah Challacombe (opens in a new tab), an integrative humanist therapist. “Talking, especially face to face, with a good listener is a quick way to calm someone’s nervous system, relieve stress.”

There’s even research from the Yale University School of Medicine (opens in a new tab) to support this. The review looked at several studies on the subject and found that, in all cases, there was a strong link between poor social support and poor physical and psychological health. Those who had access to “rich and functional” social networks were found to be less at risk.

Woman talking to a friend in person at a cafe, wearing a yellow scarf, representative of how to help someone suffering from burnout

(Image credit: Getty Images)

2. Listen without judgment

“If someone is suffering from burnout, acknowledge how they feel and don’t try to minimize their experience by saying things like ‘everyone is stressed’ or talking about your own experiences,” says psychologist leading. Dr Alison McClymont (opens in a new tab).

“Burnout is personal and while you may have had similar feelings in the past, everyone’s experience is individual. If they haven’t acknowledged they’re burnt out, maybe you can just share what you’ve seen, heard or noticed and see how they react. Don’t be afraid to say “I’m worried” as it can help people open up.”

If you want to know how to help someone who is suffering from burnout, it is also important to know that burnout is not only related to workplace stressors. There are also many types of burnout, including relationship burnout, so approach the conversation with an open mind and consider other possible causes of their stress.

3. Take some of the weight off their shoulders

It can be difficult for someone experiencing burnout to find a way out of their situation. It can therefore be useful to find practical solutions that will directly help him manage his stress.

“Where possible, take some of the burden of everyday life from someone who is suffering from burnout,” says Challacombe, who works with the Resilience Zone. (opens in a new tab), a mental health support service. “If they feel overwhelmed, it can impact their decision-making at home and prevent them from taking care of themselves.”

Women, in particular, can often find themselves in the role of caregivers within the household. It is therefore crucial to ensure that the load is shared equally, whether they are caring for children or elderly parents.

“Gender inequality is a very real issue at play in many heterosexual parenting pairs,” says career coach Selina Barker (opens in a new tab)author of The Exhausted Person’s Guide to Thrive in a rapidly changing world. “The weight of this mental load on top of a demanding job can be a big contributor to burnout. Women also have much greater expectations and pressures from society to take on this primary role of caregivers. care,” she says.

Challacombe agrees: “To help, simple things like preparing a meal that requires minimal cooking effort or sorting through household chores can help alleviate some of the everyday stresses they’re likely struggling to manage.”

4. Focus on helping them rest

“The National Sleep Foundation (opens in a new tab) says sleeping less than six hours a night is the strongest predictor of burnout,” says Kate Merrick (opens in a new tab)a UKCP psychotherapist (opens in a new tab). “Sleep promotes physical recovery and cellular healing and the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night is essential for supporting our cognitive function, regulating our nervous system and for our overall well-being.”

People struggling with burnout, especially burnout and burnout, will find it hard to rest when they have to juggle various commitments and deadlines. Therefore, to help them get quality rest, you will need to help them learn how to sleep better by giving them time. sleep. Running errands for them at lunch while they’re taking a nap could be helpful, for example. If sleep problems are serious, they will need to see a specialist or see a GP.

Woman taking deep breath with eyes closed standing in sunlight

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5. Help them set SMART goals

Reframing a task can be a very useful tool to make something less overwhelming. Once your loved one feels up to it, it can be helpful to sit down with them and offer support to deal with what’s on their mind.

“Help set daily or weekly SMART goals,” says Challacombe. “That means specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals. You can use segmentation to break tasks down into bite-sized chunks, making them less overwhelming to accomplish.

6. Help them set boundaries

If someone is struggling with burnout, it doesn’t necessarily mean they should quit their job or abandon a relationship. It’s entirely possible to learn how to avoid burnout without quitting your job, and setting boundaries is a very useful tool in this that can help people protect their well-being.

“Have a no-work policy of emails after a time mutually agreed upon with your employer,” says Alejandra Sarmiento (opens in a new tab)complex trauma specialist Soke (opens in a new tab). “It could be, for example, after 7 p.m. A work email curfew could be extended into the weekend. This is already the legal case in some countries.

7. Suggest mental health resources

“Feeling exhausted and overwhelmed can also indicate that there are bigger issues below the surface,” says Doctor Elena Touroni (opens in a new tab)consultant psychologist and founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic (opens in a new tab). “In these cases, finding a therapist can help them understand and address the underlying factors that may be contributing to it. They can help your loved one understand what is causing their burnout, so they can take steps to move on. better.

Websites such as Disturbs (opens in a new tab) and Mental Health UK (opens in a new tab) offer information and support that can also be helpful.

Smiling woman lying on sofa talking on the phone with friend

(Image credit: Getty Images)

8. Check in regularly

Feeling supported is extremely important for someone who feels overwhelmed, so making sure to check in with them regularly, even if they seem like they’re doing well now, is really important.

9. Make sure they eat well

Nutrition can often fall by the wayside when you’re fighting for your well-being, so if you have the time and the facilities, offering to cook for someone can be a very helpful way to help someone who is suffering from an illness. ‘burnout.

“A healthy, balanced diet supports our cognitive function, balances our hormones, strengthens our immune system, and regulates our mood states,” Merrick says. “People suffering from burnout should try to avoid foods known to cause inflammation and stress, such as refined sugar, processed foods, caffeine, and alcohol, and opt for foods that are high in fat instead. in nutrients such as omega 3, protein and complex carbohydrates.”

10. Be patient and understanding

Burnout is not something that can be solved overnight. Sometimes it can take weeks for people to fully recover, so don’t expect your loved one to feel better overnight.

“Burnout is not something that can simply go away with a long hot bath or a relaxing weekend,” says trauma specialist Sarmiento. “The moment someone feels exhausted, the roots run deeper than just being tired.”

What to say to someone who is burnt out

People experiencing burnout may find it difficult to open up about their emotional distress. They might be embarrassed to ask for help or wonder how they got into this situation. They may even sense that they’re struggling, so it’s important that you listen to their worries or concerns first, before offering any solutions.

Here are some useful things to say to a person who is suffering if you want to know how to help a burnt out person, as Alejandra Sarmiento suggests.

  • How are you? I would really like to understand.
  • You are not weak. We are not designed to live under stress for long periods of time.
  • How can I help? – Ideally, suggest specific ways to help someone, such as grocery shopping, folding their laundry, or cooking them a nutritious meal.
  • You are good enough. Life is not a race. It’s normal to slow down.
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