Tips for managing burnout

Tips for Managing Burnout

Following one from our last article Depressed or just burned out?  Gayelene gives us some tips on managing burnout and ways to possibly avoid it.  We run seminars and workshops with athletes and coaches on this topic and many others. 


Most people need more sleep than they think they do. If you are afraid that you will be missing out on life if you sleep too long, think again. Did you know that the neural connections critical to intelligence and learning are hard wired in the brain at night during the rapid eye movement phase of sleep?
Check out the National sleep foundations recommendations on hours of sleep per night based on age

Reframe Unhelpful Thinking

One of the biggest contributors to burnout can be mental busyness and excessive unhelpful worry. Athletes by nature are hardworking dedicated individuals and as such may slip into unhelpful patterns of thinking in the belief that being hard on oneself will motivate them towards achieving their goals – but it is just as likely to result in burnout. Thought patterns that can dump too much adrenaline into the body, are being highly self-critical, judgemental, inflexible, catastrophizing, reflecting on awful memories and social comparison. Unhelpful thinking patterns rev the engine of the car draining the fuel. Instead of ruminating over and over, ask yourself if “Is the way I am looking at the situation helpful, if not how I can change it?”

Screen Time

Interacting with technology late into the evening is like running a mental marathon, forcing your brain to stay alert without sufficient down-time. It may feel good to be mentally distracted by phones and screens, but when they interfere with sleep and deplete our feel good neurochemicals, mood, productivity and functioning are all impacted.

Fuelling the Brain


The brain needs quiet time. When individuals are tired they often eat more, but mental fatigue is not resolved through consuming more kilojoules. Nor does alcohol aid sleep, rather it interferes with the rapid eye movement phase of sleep and sleep quality. Caffeine past lunchtime is not a good idea either because it is a stimulant and can keep you buzzing.


In general, exercise aids in the production of serotonin and dopamine while helping to metabolise and get rid of the unpleasant stress chemical cortisol. Exercise also helps the immune system and boosts brain power, supplying the brain with more oxygen. The fitter you are, the faster your brainwaves fire. While exercise generally helps with sleep, working-out too hard and late in the evening is not recommended as it is likely to pump the body with adrenaline and cortisol and delay sleep onset

Be Organised

It may seem ‘old school’ but routines, time-tables and weekly planners actually help. When you map out your commitments, you can see what you have coming up and if it is manageable. It also helps to work towards incremental goals that make it easier to stay on task. If you leave things to the last minute or let things accumulate you may trigger a ‘fight-or-flight’ response that wastes energy through excess anxiety.

Time in Nature

All of those who love the outdoors will not be surprised to learn that research shows that spending time in natural settings is rejuvenating for the mind. So take time out and walk in the sunshine, by the sea or under the trees to rejuvenate a tired mind.

Performance Psychologist Gayelene Clews

Our workshops can be seen here