The 5 Stages of Burnout (and How to Recover)

8 November 2020

Well-Being

Burnout is what happens after a prolonged period of stress and/or exhaustion; its effects on motivation and mood can be huge. Many of us know how hard it can be to recover from burnout when we let it go too far…

Yet, whether it occurs in fitness or in another area of life, burnout can be harder to recognize than you might think in its earlier stages. Being able to pinpoint it early on allows us to experience fewer setbacks!

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What are the 5 stages of burnout?

Stage One: The Honeymoon Phase

When you’ve just started a new workout regime or you’ve just got back in the gym after a break, it can be easy to overload yourself. During stage one of burnout, you’ll get carried away with the excitement of working out and the endorphins that come with it.

To prevent burnout, take things slowly. Plan for rest days and ensure that you eat enough calories. If you don’t, your new routine will soon catch up with you and you’ll crash before you even get started.

Stage Two: The Early Onset Of Stress

In stage two, working out might not seem as enjoyable as it once did. As burnout starts to hit, you’ll probably feel the early signs of stress coming on. Common signs include difficulty sleeping, inability focusing, irritability and chest pains.

If you’re wondering how to recover from burnout at this stage, the good news is that it shouldn’t be too hard. Take a step back, reassess and create some smaller, easier goals.

Stage Three: Advanced Stress

As you enter into this stage of burnout, stress will really be noticeable. This stress may manifest in a few different ways… You might feel increasingly frustrated at the thought of working out or you might feel entirely apathetic towards the whole thing.

To recover from burnout at this stage, listen to your body. This might mean taking a break from exercise or it might mean switching things up and trying something new.

Stage Four: Ultimate Burnout

Once you get to stage four of burnout, you’ll likely want to throw in the towel with exercise altogether. Your body will be exhausted and you’ll be full of pessimism and self-doubt.

Though you’re pretty far through the five stages of burnout here, do not worry! It’s surprisingly easy to recover. Reach out to a friend or family member to find someone who can support you as you start back at the gym. Take everything in slow steps.

Stage Five: Habitual Burnout

In stage five, when burnout has become habitual, you’ll find yourself entering into cycles of burnout that you find it increasingly difficult to recover from healthily. Rather than returning to the gym slowly, with a plan and a support network, you’ll go back into over-working your body, only to find that you enter another burnout phase.

If you’re wondering how to recover from burnout at this stage, and you’ve already tried the suggestions from stages 1-4, it might be time to invest in a personal trainer. By providing professional guidance and, more importantly, support, a trainer can help you to overcome burnout and prevent you from experiencing it again.

No matter which stage you’re at, don’t worry! Once you learn to overcome burnout, you’ll find that you build up the mental state required to keep progressing on your fitness journey without lapsing into bad habits.

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