27 Simple Ways to Avoid Burnout

27 Simple Ways to Avoid Burnout

You may not have realized this if you’ve been following my recent travels on Facebook, but:

My name is Nikki, and I’m a recovering workaholic.

Confession time. Since I started dreaming up my business in early 2013….

  • I’ve been known to check emails, Facebook, Twitter, and MailChimp all throughout the day – even in bed.
  • On days when my little guy’s at “school,” it’s not uncommon for me to get so caught up in my work that I forget to eat breakfast and/or lunch.
  • I don’t get enough sleep (usually because I’m up too late, but sometimes because I’m up too early).

…and, while I’m sincerely embarrassed to admit this…

  • My 23-month-old son has ordered me to “Close it!” (it = my MacBook) on at least two occasions. Low point.

Does any of that sound familiar to you?

If you’re like me, you love being in the zone. You’re driven by passion. Purpose. The thrill of entrepreneurship. You love your work because it doesn’t FEEL like work, and you’re thankful for that.

But here’s the truth: Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. And if you don’t know how to turn work mode OFF every now and then, you’re gonna find yourself on the bullet train to burnout. 

Ain’t nobody got time for that. (So tweet it!)

Let’s flip the switch before it’s too late. Today and EVERY day, let’s make conscious choices to shut down our passion projects and live a little…like we did BEFORE we caught the business bug.

In this post I’ll give you 27 simple ways to do just that.

A Refreshing Change of Pace

Before we dive into the good stuff, let me tell you why I consider myself a “recovering” workaholic:

1. I had an intentionally busy summer. I knew we’d be home (on Oahu) for the whole summer, with our little guy in daycare three days per week. My schedule was predictable and fulllll. I had the chance to work with over 100 bright entrepreneurs, and it was fantastic. Happy, happy, happy, but busy, busy, busy. I wouldn’t trade the experience, the lessons, or the connections made for anything, but I’ve gotta be honest: Come August, I welcomed what I knew would be a significant change of pace.

Picking Apples2. I’m now enjoying an intentionally flexible fall. Instead of offering 8 to 10 one-on-one sessions per week, I currently offer one or two. For various reasons since August, I’ve traveled to/from Hawaii, Texas, Germany, the Czech Republic, England, Massachusetts, and now Connecticut. Just tonight I went to an orchard up the road and picked apples with my guys, for Pete’s. Talk about a sweet memory.

So what’s the point?

This change of pace has been refreshing. A blessing. Totally inspiring. And there’s something to that.

There are plenty of posts out there that tell us the value in taking serious action and going after our dreams. But there aren’t enough that tell us the value in slowing down to stop and pick the apples. To shut off the biz brain and the smart phones. To take time to be silly, mindful, and maybe even a bit lazy every once in a while.

It’s great to enjoy what you do for a living. But it’s also important to DO some living. (Tweet that!)

So this list is for you AND for me, dude. Let’s keep it growing.

27 Simple Ways to Avoid Burnout

  1. Take a walk.
  2. Play with your kiddo(s).
  3. Snuggle up to your significant other.
  4. Take a vacation (or at least get one on the books).
  5. Read a book.
  6. Watch your fave TV show.
  7. Go see a movie.
  8. Do some stretches.
  9. Call a friend.
  10. Call your grandma.
  11. Go to the zoo.
  12. Paint your nails.
  13. Visit with a neighbor.
  14. Bake cupcakes.
  15. Say a prayer.
  16. Go to church.
  17. Hit the gym.
  18. Play an instrument.
  19. Visit a museum.
  20. Floss your teeth.
  21. Actually DO something you pinned on Pinterest.
  22. Write a thank you note.
  23. Hop on the nearest swing set.
  24. Be a tourist in your own city.
  25. Organize your closet.
  26. Volunteer your time.
  27. Take a NAP.

You with me now?

This list could go on for digital miles. (And with your comments, I hope it will.)

Hard work is a beautiful thing. But sometimes you just need to flip the switch and step away for a while. When you do, you’ll come back renewed, refreshed, and ready for brilliance.

And that, my friend, is when your BEST work will come to light.

So let’s keep it going.

If you like this post, share it with the workaholics in YOUR life. Then, in the comments, tell us:

What are some of your “warning signs” for burnout?
What are some of your best ways to avoid it?

List one, list one hundred. Can’t wait to hear ’em!

To good books and grandmas,







  1. claire stone

    Great list – thank you!

    My super top one for busy people is to take time to go to the toilet. Ain’t no better time to relax than in the quiet zone of the bathroom. And it’s good for your bowels too, to make time!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Ha! I’m noticing a theme here, Claire ;)

      “The library” is definitely a good retreat!

  2. Katie

    I signed up for a daily meditation email that i (try) to read daily. Sometimes they are realllly far out (i.e. let’s talk about your reincarnated self) but sometimes they are pretty timely and helpful (i.e. learn how to let go of negative relationships). Even if it only takes 2 min to read the email it was enough for me to say i took a break and at least focused on myself (hey it”s baby steps!). If you’re interested sign up: http://www.dailyom.com

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Baby steps are good steps, Katie! Thanks for sharing, friend :)

  3. Teri

    Take a drive! There’s so many beautiful fall scenes and open roads here in Oklahoma! It’s great to just jump in the car, open the sunroof and go. It’s refreshing especially on the most stressful days. Even a night drive is great, just have to watch for the deer (raccoons, possums, skunks, armadillos)! Ha! Thanks for the reminder. Sometimes I get so uptight and have to stop and ask myself, what do I need right now? If we don’t give ourselves a break we can’t be nearly as productive, right?

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      RIGHT, Teri!

      Drives are great too. With Hawaii gas prices, they’re not the most economical option, but you sure can’t beat the views ;)

  4. Barbara Foxworth

    I love this post, Nikki! I’ve often felt the same way…

    One of the things that makes us MORE effective is to take some down time!

    I LOVE to sit with my tea in the morning in front of the window (after the kids go off to school) for at least 30 minutes and do NOTHING but ….THINK! …NO phone, NO checking email, NO computer, NO reading, NO interruptions & NO getting up. (That’s the hard part!) I love my thinking time…It really clears the clutter and makes me more effective during the day. :-)

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Thanks for sharing, Barbara!

      It’s amazing how hard it is to do NOTHING. We’re so conditioned to be busy. I’m definitely working on it!

  5. Kathy

    My husband and I have swapped one day a week to do as we wish! Of course it’s flexible but I usually have Saturdays to look forward to (and work~ which I love then yoga or a bike ride) and he has Sundays to go climbing or skiing. And this weekend I’m going on a mama-only hike up to a hut. Totally not my usual weekend plan so mixing up even downtime once in a while is important to squelch the burn out!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      That all sounds fabulous, Kathy! Where do y’all live to have all these outdoorsy options?

  6. Jennifer

    Technology definitely makes it easier to become a workaholic. It wasn’t long ago that you couldn’t look at your smartphone to get access to your email whenever you felt like it. It’s so hard to resist!

    I love reading everyone’s methods for taking a break and seeing how simple they are–that’s the beauty of them. As for me, I love downloading podcasts or my favorite music and just going for a walk/run.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Great minds decompress alike, Jennifer!

      Before launching my biz, I listened to biz / leadership podcasts while at the gym or in the car, or while walking with my little one.

      I knew I’d crossed over to serious entreprenerdiness when I sitting down to listen to biz training felt like a break!

      1. Jennifer

        I’ll have to listen to that! I love Smart Passive Income Podcast and Amy Porterfield’s podcast

        1. Nikki Elledge Brown

          Have heard great things about both of those!

          Michael Hyatt was one of the first folks I started learning from when I dipped my toe into the world of online business in January/February. His content feels kinda like “home base” or comfort food (for thought) to me :) Big focus on intentional leadership + building a platform.

          Here’s the link. ENJOY! http://michaelhyatt.com/thisisyourlife

          1. Jennifer

            Thanks Nikki!

  7. Katie

    This is right on Nikki, and so needed.

    The past few weeks I’ve been so wrapped up creating and launching an online mind body cleanse that I’ve completely ignored my own advice about managing stress and staying balanced.

    This post was the final light that made me realize I am on the road to burnout and need to get off at a different exit.

    My favorite way to avoid burnout is YOGA.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Glad I could help you take your OWN advice, Katie :)

      Hope you enjoy some well-deserved yoga breaks this weekend!

  8. Tonia

    Ha! I tell people to slow down and do what they love every day. I always joke that if people didn’t work, then I wouldn’t have a job. Because if they didn’t work, they wouldn’t be stressed, wouldn’t neglect looking after themselves, wouldn’t get sick and ipso facto something something – BOOM Tonia on the streets. Anyhoo, thanks for the great list. I tell my patients that self-care time gets the first 30 minutes of any to do list. If to do item number 17 gets missed because you took half an hour for your self, then there is always tomorrow. And come on, it’s number 17. It can’t be more important than self-care. If self-care is below number 17 on the list – we got big problems!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      You’ve got it, Tonia. On tha STREETS!

      And please keep chiming in with the pro health advice. Adds more street cred to my qualitative observations :)

  9. Leide

    Guilty…BIG time.

    Perhaps like you, after a couple “low points” with the kids I decided it was time for change. Instead of working all day (I do check emails and respond customers questions and requests), I now start hands-on work at 8-9pm.. Which allows me to spend time with the kids and take them somewhere fun for the day, snuggle, cook something cool… But the confession is that I so look forward to 9:00pm as much as I look forward to 8:00am when I see little feet at my bedroom door.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Right there with you, Leide.

      I see balance is an ideal, not a daily reality. I try to accept that some days are just gonna feel out of whack. It’s like a pendulum. And my goal is to have more days that swing toward the “too much LIFE” side than the “too much WORK” side.

      It’s a challenge I’m thankful for!

  10. Susan Seale

    Every day I go to the beach…even if it’s west coast monsoon raining (like today). The fresh air, the quiet and the sound of the waves restore a sense of balance that I take with me thru the day.

    I’m just coming out of burnout actually…almost 20 years of long days + long weeks with a biz. I used to fantasize about going outside and just breathing (even though I totally loved my work…I just didn’t get out as much as I craved).

    Now I do:)

    When I’m feeling overwork coming on…reading quietly beside my husband…going for a walk with my husband and the dog, eating with my husband…I guess anything with my husband pulls me back from the brink…:)!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Love that, Susan! The beach + the husband are a winning combo :)

      Thanks for sharing, and WELCOME to life beyond burnout!

    2. Tonia

      Westcoast air is supppppper healing! Love the mist we have going on today in Nanaimo :)

  11. Shonna

    My grandma’s funeral was a year ago today. I would do anything to be able to give her one more phone call. But since I can’t…I’m now taking at least 30 minutes every day to work out (which I always said I didn’t have time to do) and 10 minutes for myself at the end of every day to meditate. It is the best thing I have done to take care of my physical and mental health. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in business and big ideas…but this 40 minutes every day has helped me learn to calm and clear my head which in turn makes me more productive in the time I do spend on my biz. Great post, Nikki!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Beautiful, Shonna. And exactly why I included that one in there.

      Life is precious, and the people we get to share it with make it all worthwhile. The older (busier) we get, the more consciously we have to nurture those relationships.

      Thank you so much for sharing!

    2. Michelle

      I have had the same experience, Shonna. I’ve meditated 20 minutes a day for the past 4 years, and it has changed my life. I noticed so many benefits within the first month. I believe it has rewired my brain, as studies suggest. Love this list, Nikki! Fun ideas!

  12. Sumbul


    I am a fully recovered workaholic. Been clean for over 4 years now. I learnt early on in my profession that I did not make more money if I worked more. So I cut down to only 3 days a week. I love it. Also I do not take emergency calls myself. I let my assistant do the triage so I barely have to take any phone calls.

    The truth is when your schedule is overpacked and you are overworked your creative channels get blocked. Some R &R is needed to keep them open.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      More work does NOT equal more money. That’s golden, Sumbul!

      Thanks so much for sharing, and congrats on four years clean ;)

  13. Christine Thomson

    I hit the swing set yesterday! Weeeeee! :-)

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Me too, Christine! Another order from my little one while we were at the park :) He’s full of good advice!

  14. Ragnhild Hannoschøck Vea

    You got me!;) Wish I could say “been there, done that”, though that is true too. But it would be more honest to write “I’m there, right now” ;) ha ha :-D Why didn’t we just get an ordinary job? We know why <3 so thanks for sharing. You are brilliant in your communication!

  15. Mary Kerwin

    Nothing lets me unwind as much as having a “girls night out’ with close friends —
    Unless, of course, it’s a date night (complete with makeup and heals) with my husband.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Brilliant additions, Mary! (Wish I had my fancy lady + stiletto emojis handy.)

  16. Lisa Gillespie

    I came of age in the 1980’s, a time when being a “workaholic” was a badge of honor. After kids, I gave up the 60 – 80 hour work weeks, but found that I was still in the habit of being disproportionately “busy”(taking care of everyone/everything around me). It’s a real identity shift, to decide to no longer equate self-worth with how much you’re crossing off of a “to do” list.
    I’m much better at this now – I make time for hiking, biking, spending more time with my kids (who are older, now), friends, and family, eating decently, being creative, etc.
    But when a deadline comes up, it’s challenging to not put everything else on the back burner and slip into my old habits. So I’m a “work in progress”: I accept where I am and celebrate/note where I’m being more aware.
    It especially helps to share these triumphs with friends going through a similar journey.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Totally relate to that, Lisa! Thanks for sharing your experience :)

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Don’t know how I missed this one, Tonia (maybe because I was laptopless in the TX hill country last June??), but I LOVE your list. So glad you posted it here. Thank you!

  17. Kate C

    Actually DO something you pinned on Pinterest – Love it! So true!

  18. Vanessa

    Dig your feet in the sand!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Great one, Vanessa! I’ve seen folks add sand to their desk drawers at work for this exact reason. (Well, at least they do it on Pinterest…;))

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