How to Avoid Burnout

I just read an article that noted that the average working mother clocks in 98 hours a week. I actually feel like this number is an underestimate for many of my clients and myself. For instance, I couldn’t help but laugh at my ridiculousness this evening. I came home from work, cooked dinner, played with the kids, tucked them in and instead of trying to relax, I went and painted the back porch. Yes, I’ll let that one sink in. I painted the back porch in the dark after working at home and work for over 13 hours. I’m not that unusual. The fact is that we are working longer and harder than ever. Factor in that we have smart phones now that makes it expected to respond to emails and texts at all hours; we are all at risk for burnout.

Stanford University released a study that reported 50 hour workweeks were optimal for max productivity. Anything over 50 hours and our output reportedly diminishes. Despite the fact that most understand that we can only be pushed so far with work, there doesn’t seem to be relief in sight in our work culture. Burn-out is on the rise and can have a devastating impact on our mental health, including physical and mental exhaustion. Subsequently, it is important to take care of ourselves before burn out occurs. Here are some musts for everyone that is clocking in those massive hours at home and work.

1.     Self-Care- There is a reason that counselors will tout the merits of self-care. Self-care is crucial and needs to be added to your routine. Whether you aim for yoga twice a week, a dinner out with friends, a bubble bath, or a relaxing walk with your dog, you need to schedule time that is dedicated to your needs. After a particularly long week, self-care can feel like another chore, but it is vital for your mental and physical health.

2.     Vacation- Did you know that half of Americans don’t take all their paid vacation days? Vacation days are designed to allow you to unwind from work, relax and spend time with family. Even if you are unable to afford an exotic vacation, make sure to take those days and spend some time out of the office!

3.     Finding a job with meaning and purpose is one of the biggest predictors in avoiding burnout. Try to find the positive impact of your work and develop positive relationships in the office.

4.     Setting boundaries is another crucial step in avoiding burnout. For instance, if you are working late every evening in a week, set the boundary that you will not work the weekend. There can be plenty of pressure placed on employees to maximize work; however, boundaries can be placed to ensure your health and family time are a priority. If you are spending time with the family, make it a habit to place your cell phone away from you and be present and engaged during your time away from work.

5.     Lastly, try to maximize your time away from work. I occasionally come home 45 minutes before my children go to sleep. Sometimes it feels like the evening is already gone before I step through the door. However, I learned that we have much more time when we maximize our evenings. For instance, we sometimes go for bike rides at night, or play board games during those 45 minutes. When we are active and use all our minutes left in the day, our time is more meaningful and maximized.

If you find that you are nearing burnout, it might be time to reassess how you are spending your time. Make your mental health a priority, create boundaries and don’t forget to have fun! Call me, 713.999.4282, if you want to further explore meaning and purpose in your life.

Written by Amy Rollo, M.A., LSSP, LPC-S

Amy Rollo is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and owner of Heights Family Counseling. Amy has been practicing for fifteen years. She has doctoral level training in the areas of child and adolescent counseling, marriage and family therapy, and adult counseling. Amy Rollo provides counseling and evaluation services in the Houston Heights and surrounding areas. Amy’s goal in counseling is to journey with her clients in order to foster positive changes and growth in their lives. Read more about Amy's counseling style by visiting