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Exercising When You're Experiencing Burnout

Updated: Apr 23, 2023

The pandemic has taken its toll on everyone, in some way or another. All of this uncertainty and stress has brought conversations about burnout and mental strain to the forefront. While it is common advice that consistent exercise can help prevent and even alleviate burnout, it can be difficult to have the energy or capacity to even get a workout in. Below are some ways to exercise when you’re facing burnout.

It’s important to note that exercise burnout is another issue that people face. This is when you’re overtraining and not getting adequate rest. You may notice that you’re often tired, disinterested in exercise and taking longer to recover. Taking a break from exercising is totally fine - especially if you are not getting adequate sleep. Rest days are vital to exercising in a healthy way, and if you’re burnout from exercising, even taking a week or two off could be what you need.

Rest Comes First

If you’re facing burnout from work or just the stresses of life, even thinking about working out can feel exhausting - and that’s okay. This is a normal feeling and nothing to feel guilty about. If your body is asking you for rest, go and rest.

Plan for Small Steps

Once you feel like you’re in a better spot and want to figure out how to incorporate exercise into your routine, take it step by step. First, start with low impact movement that you enjoy. This could be just going for a walk, yoga, or even just stretching in bed. Setting aside just 15-30 minutes a few times a week can help improve your mental and physical health. Mark down in your calendar how often you are getting intentional movement in and for how long. Also, logging how you feel after this movement can help you figure out what types of movement you enjoy.

After figuring out what type of exercise feels good for you, make a plan for how you will realistically and consistently exercise throughout the week. Adding your exercise plans into your schedule is the best way to ensure it will get done. I like to write out what workout I plan to do and then once it is complete, I put a check mark or sticker to physically show I completed it.

Remember to be Kind to Yourself

The most important thing to remember on this journey is that you are doing your best and that’s what counts. So often people get burnt out partially because they cannot turn their brains off and feel guilty for trying to rest or slow down. It is okay if you miss a day, it’s okay if you only get 5 minutes of movement in, even though you wanted to get 30. Giving yourself grace and time to heal is what is most important.

Focus on Your Overall Health

Burnout is an issue that affects your overall health, so it is important to focus on more than just the physical aspect. Make sure you are also getting enough sleep, eating in a way that makes you feel good and getting support from family and friends.

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