Coming Back from the Edge of Burnout

Coming Back from the Edge of Burnout

Do you feel like you’re being pulled in all directions, without enough time, energy, or motivation to get it all done? Not only are you missing deadlines and meetings, but you are feeling physically ill and emotionally detached from those around you.

That, my friends, is burnout. And it’s the biggest issue I see leaders and employees facing today.

I get it. I’ve been there, and it’s why I love having these conversations. So, today I want to talk about the warning signs of burnout so that you can recognize it before it hits you (or your team) full force, as well as tactics you can use to come back from the edge once you find yourself there. The warning signs are more prevalent than you probably realize, but the secrets to closing the stress cycle may be easier than you think.

Tune in and let’s talk about it. Don’t let burnout linger where it’s not welcome.

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Mentioned In This Episode:


Lindsay Recknell 0:00
Welcome to Mental Health in Minutes the podcast where we normalize mental health conversations at work and share the strategies and tactics that make those conversations ones you actually want to have. I am your host, Lindsay Recknell, the psychological health and safety advisor, a workplace mental health consultant, speaker, facilitator and an expert in hope.

Lindsay Recknell 0:17
If you’re listening to this episode, you know, our people need us more than ever, and I know you want to support them, but maybe you don’t know the words to use to engage them in conversation, or how to respond when they do open up. That’s what this podcast is all about. My guests will share tactical, practical and simple ways to connect with your people. Let them know that you care about them and are there to support them, and believe in them enough to continue investing in their career and personal development. Each episode we’ll also discuss the future of mental health in the workplace, and at the top ways we can engage our leadership in the workplace mental health conversation, and have them endorse and pay for a positive culture shift within our organizations.

Lindsay Recknell 0:55
This episode is a unique one, my very first solo episode of this podcast. It marks the beginning of season four of the show almost 40 episodes of brilliant leaders sharing their ideas for connecting with amazing humans at work. It’s hard to put into words what the first three seasons have meant to me as a workplace mental health professional. I’m honored to learn from my guests and walk alongside them as they solve some of the biggest issues facing their organizations today. One of those issues, dare I say the biggest issue I hear from leaders right now is that they and their people are suffering from burnout syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress. recognized by the World Health Organization and characterized as feelings of energy depletion and exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job and reduced professional efficacy.

Lindsay Recknell 1:40
We might recognize it as crossing over from feeling like it’s all too much, too much pressure, too many deadlines too much overwhelm and demands on our time. And tipping over into feeling liquid just don’t have enough. Not enough energy, not enough motivation, and truly not enough cares left to give. Burnout is very personal to me. The first time I experienced burnout was November of 2017. I was consulting full time and running a couple other businesses off the side of my desk. We were also experiencing mental health challenges at home. And with the elevated levels of stress chemicals I was carrying around in my body, my physical body was impacted along with my mind, I found myself missing meetings, disregarding deadlines, complemented with unexplained headaches and digestive issues.

Lindsay Recknell 2:23
You see, our bodies are not designed to stay in this frantic elevated stress response for long periods of time. And finally, my mind reminded me that if I wasn’t going to make time for my wellness, I was definitely going to be forced to make time for my illness. This experience started me on the path to learning everything I could about what I was experiencing in the state of burnout. And I’d like to share a little bit of that with you today. What I’m going to share with you today is some of the information you’ll also find in the burnout module of my mental health and minute digital subscription, a done for you package of presentations and other content designed to help you make meaningful connections with your people. increase knowledge and education about mental health related topics, and normalize these kinds of conversations in your workplace.

Lindsay Recknell 3:07
If you’re interested in a little sample of this material to see what it’s like as a subscriber to mental health in minutes, and how simple it can be to share super valuable, easy to understand and interactive information with your people. I have a training trial you can download for free. Go to my website at, and without too much effort into your part you can get started engaging with your team and teaching them how to stop the slide into burnout for themselves. Included in this training trial you’ll find two different lengths of presentations, a 15 minute version and a five minute version, as well as the speaker’s notes for each along with a quick training video and a checklist to help you get started. Easy peasy. Just go to and download your free copy now. We’ll also link to this in the show notes of this episode.

Lindsay Recknell 4:00
Be assured you can stop the slide. Burnout is not forever, and you do have the power to come back from the edge. Let’s spend the rest of this episode introducing you to the topic of burnout and a few simple strategies and tactics you can start doing right away to come back from the edge of burnout you and your people.

Lindsay Recknell 4:17
The first thing I want to share with you is the difference between burnout and stress. Earlier I mentioned that burnout is when you move from feeling like it’s all too much and crossover into feeling like you don’t have enough, not enough time, energy, motivation or desire to get it all done. This is the result of the stressors in our lives. Those external and internal things that activate the stress response in our bodies. These stressors can be external like money, kids or work. And they can also be internal like shame, perfectionism are people pleasing. When we experienced the stressors in our lives, that triggers the stress response in our body, the parasympathetic nervous system, which is our body’s chemical response to these stressors.

Lindsay Recknell 5:00
This was mind blowing to me when I learned it, the stressors in our lives because a chemical response, the impact I was feeling wasn’t just all in my head, the literal pain I was feeling in my body wasn’t because I couldn’t handle it. It was literally a chemical reaction in my nervous system. And even more important than knowing that my body behaved this way to the stressors in my life, was understanding that when the stress chemicals were elevated in my body for a prolonged period of time, that’s what triggers burnout, that state of physical and emotional exhaustion. Now, stressors in our lives can be useful, right, they can cause excitement, feelings of pride, kudos for a job well done. But we’re not designed to maintain these levels for such long periods of time.

Lindsay Recknell 5:46
Biologically, we’re wired to a stress response from ancient days, when our worries were big, like, you know, being eaten. But once the stressor was removed, we could go back to our days of hunting and gathering. But in our lives now, there are so many stressors, and we are living in a constant state of an elevated stress response, that we’ve set a new baseline, and this is not healthy for our wellness. So how do you know when you could be heading for burnout? I love the research being done by the folks at mind tools, an organization dedicated to helping people enjoy happy and successful careers. They have an awesome checklist of warning signs you can watch for when considering your own level of burnout. The full checklist is included in the full burnout module of mental health and minutes as part of the subscription.

Lindsay Recknell 6:31
But let me share a few of them with you. If you find yourself having a negative or critical attitude at work, you could be heading for burnout. If you’re finding that you’re easily irritated by team members or clients, and you’re typically more of a patient person, this is a sign that you could be heading for burnout. If you find yourself experiencing physical symptoms, such as backache, digestive issues or trouble sleeping, this is a sign you could be heading for burnout. And the warning sign that was biggest for me looking back on my own experience. If you find yourself pulling away emotionally from colleagues or clients, from your family, even this is a sign you could be heading for burnout. The warning signs are physical, emotional, and behavioral. And they’re probably more prevalent than you think.

Lindsay Recknell 7:23
So now I bet you’re thinking okay, linds. So now what, what do I do? Now that I’ve identified a few of these warning signs and myself or other people? How do I stop this slide? Great question. Let me share a concept with you all about closing the stress cycle, something I learned from the brilliant sisters, doctors Emily and Emilia Nagurski, authors of a book called burnout, the secret to unlocking the stress cycle, I can’t recommend this book enough. We’ll link to it in the show notes. And I highly suggest you check it out, especially the audio version if you can, because the sisters read it themselves. And their voices just adds so much more to it. Okay, so the stress cycle in their book than the gospel is talk about how removing the stressor that’s been happening isn’t actually enough to interrupt the parasympathetic nervous system and lower those stress chemicals in our bodies, we actually have to do something to complete the stress cycle and come back to a healthier way of being in our bodies.

Lindsay Recknell 8:19
So it’s not enough to meet that deadline or turn in that presentation. Just getting to the other side of that stressor isn’t enough to stop the stress response in your body, you actually have to be intentional about what they call closing the stress cycle. And they share seven ways to do this. I won’t go into detail of all of them here. But you can definitely learn more in their book. And of course, in the full burnout module within my subscription. Two of my favorite ways to close the stress cycle are to move my body and laughing so let’s talk quickly about those. moving our bodies is something we’ve all heard the benefits of. But sometimes it just seems like one more thing we have to fit into our day. But the beauty of using body movement as a way to start closing the stress cycle is that it doesn’t have to be big. Even just doing the dishes by hand or walking from the far end of the parking lot into the grocery store will start to lower those stress chemicals in your body and stop the slide into burnout.

Lindsay Recknell 9:14
Did you know that your brain really can’t distinguish fake laughter from real laughter. So even if you don’t feel like busting out a big belly laugh as a way to start closing the stress cycle, watching funny videos or stand up comedians, listening to others laugh or searching out the best dad jokes you can find will increase the endorphins in your body that feel good chemical that will also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, which reduces the physical impacts of the stress response. The convincing info for me about the dangerous impact of burnout is when I hear or read about the chemical implications. Maybe it’s a throwback to my high school science days when the teacher put the fear of negative chemical interactions in my mind, but knowing that are chemical responses to stressors in my body was really what encourages me to be both reactive and proactive when I find myself in these close to burnout scenarios, it’s why I do this work. I feel like if I don’t know this stuff, you and your employees likely don’t know it either. And for the health and well being of all of us, knowledge is power and connection is key. I’ve never felt more aligned to the work that I’m doing, sharing messages like this with fine folks like you.

Lindsay Recknell 10:20
I’m on a mission to raise collective wellness in the workplace and in our communities. And a podcast episodes like this, and the training tryout free download I mentioned can help more of you have these important conversations I’m in, I highly encourage you to think about some of the warning signs I mentioned, and consider the impact they might be having on your life and the lives of your team members. They’re looking to you for support and leadership. And I’m here to support you however I can. One of my favorite quotes from Brene Brown is, if you don’t want to burn out, quit living like you’re on fire. You definitely don’t have to live like you’re on fire. And I’m confident you’re now equipped to put it out. The thing we do best at mental health in minutes is open the door to conversations about mental health at work. And episodes like this give us real things we can try to truly make a difference. I know you’re making a difference at your workplace or you wouldn’t be listening to podcast episodes like this one. I’d love to help you accelerate your impact at work, help you really move the needle and mental health maturity in your workplace and get people to a place where they’re feeling less stressed, more fulfilled, and able to integrate work and life in a way that works for them and your organization.

Lindsay Recknell 11:24
Being a people leader is especially hard right now, you might feel like you’re managing both up and down the corporate ladder. And if the thought of figuring out how to best support your people and yourself feels overwhelming and impossibly hard, let’s talk. We’re here to do the heavy lifting with resources and materials, along with the training and facilitation leaving you to do what you do best engaging with and supporting your people. I have many ways to support you from full service hands on to guidance and support from afar with hands off. So let’s chat about what works best for you and your people. As always, I’m here if you need me.

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My mission is to help great leaders like you feel less awkward and more confident about mental health at work so you can stress less and take more action.

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