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Emotional Regulation: Overcoming Burnout

We’ve all heard the term burnout before. Heck, you might’ve experienced it. If you have, you know overcoming burnout is no joke. However, learning to utilize emotional regulation can help you overcome burnout.

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Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by long-term exposure to stressors. It can leave you feeling disconnected, disengaged, and drained. It’s more than just feeling tired. It can affect your ability to function in both your personal and professional life. 

Emotional regulation is the ability to manage and control your emotions in a healthy way, rather than letting them control you. 

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Understanding Burnout and its Symptoms

Burnout comes from being in a state of chronic stress. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including work-related stress, relationship problems, financial worries, and health issues. Burnout can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or occupation.

The symptoms of burnout can vary, but they often include physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, and a feeling of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. You may also experience irritability, anxiety, and depression. Burnout can make it difficult to concentrate, make decisions, and enjoy your personal life.

I want to note here that while burnout can hit anyone, I’m seeing it occur more and more frequently with neurodivergent people. Part of this is because you spend so much time trying to fit into the neurotypical mold of who you’re “supposed to be” that it exhausts you.

You spend so much time “masking” that you don’t have enough time to be yourself. It takes a lot of mental and emotional energy to constantly pull that off.

Emotional regulation: Overcoming Burnout

The Role of Emotions in Burnout

Emotions play a significant role in burnout. When you are under stress, your body produces a hormone called cortisol, which can make you feel anxious, irritable, and overwhelmed. If you don't manage your emotions in a healthy way, they can become overwhelming and lead to burnout.

Emotions also affect your ability to think clearly and make decisions. When you are overwhelmed with emotions, it can be difficult to focus on the task at hand or come up with creative solutions to problems.

Stressed Woman Looking at a Laptop

Unregulated Emotions and Burnout

Unregulated (or managed) emotions can have a negative impact on your mental and physical health. Unregulated emotions can lead to chronic stress, which can increase your risk of developing health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and depression. and as I’ve said, chronic stress is a leading cause of burnout.

Unregulated emotions can also affect your relationships. When you are overwhelmed with emotions, you may lash out at others or engage in unhealthy behaviors that can damage your relationships. This happens often when one person in the relationship is neurodivergent but the other isn’t. If the neurotypical person doesn’t understand neurodiversity and all it entails,  it can lead to increased frustration and issues in the relationship. 

As I mentioned, unregulated emotions can lead to burnout. When you are unable to manage your emotions effectively, they can become overwhelming and lead to a spiral of negativity that impacts your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

The Benefits of Emotional Regulation in Overcoming Burnout

Emotional regulation can help you overcome burnout in several ways. First, it can help you manage your stress levels and prevent them from becoming overwhelming. By regulating your emotions, you can stay calm and focused, even in high-pressure situations.

Emotional regulation can also help you improve your relationships. When you are able to manage your emotions effectively, you are less likely to lash out at others or engage in unhealthy behaviors that can damage your relationships.

Finally, emotional regulation can help you increase your resilience and bounce back from setbacks more quickly. By developing healthy coping mechanisms, you can build your emotional strength and better handle the challenges that come your way.

a woman sitting in front of a laptop computer

Emotional Regulation Techniques for Burnout

There are several techniques you can use to regulate your emotions and overcome burnout. 

  • Mindfulness: One of the most effective techniques, mindfulness involves being aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations in the present moment, without judgment.
  • Deep Breathing: Deep breathing can help you calm your mind and body, reduce stress, and improve your focus. To practice deep breathing, sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and take slow, deep breaths.
  • Journaling: Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you process them and gain a new perspective on your situation. You can also use journaling to set goals and track your progress.
  • Exercise: Exercise releases endorphins, which are feel-good hormones that can improve your mood and reduce anxiety and depression.

Dealing with Sensory Overload 

Sensory overload is a common problem for people who are experiencing burnout. When you are overwhelmed with stress, your senses can become overloaded, making it difficult to focus and think clearly.

One way to regulate your emotions and reduce sensory overload is to create a calm and quiet environment for yourself. This could involve turning off your phone, closing your door, and finding a quiet place to sit and relax.

Another way to reduce sensory overload is to engage in activities that are calming and soothing, such as listening to music, taking a warm bath, or spending time in nature. These activities can help you relax and reduce stress, making it easier to regulate your emotions.

Incorporating Emotional Regulation into Your Daily Routine

Incorporating emotional regulation into your daily routine is essential for overcoming burnout. One way to do this is to set aside time each day for self-care activities, such as exercise, meditation, or journaling.

You can also practice emotional regulation throughout the day by paying attention to your thoughts and feelings and taking steps to manage them effectively. For example, if you notice that you are feeling overwhelmed, you can take a short break to practice deep breathing or go for a walk to clear your head.

It’s important to prioritize your mental and emotional health by setting boundaries. This is much easier said than done. It requires you to say no to unnecessary commitments and seek support from friends, family, or a mental health professional if you need it.

Setting those boundaries is especially hard for my people pleasers out there. You’re constantly afraid of letting people down, worried that they will no longer like or respect you if you don’t do all of the things. You constantly spread yourself too thin and this leads to burnout. You need to learn to put yourself first at least some of the time.

Emotional regulation is the key to overcoming burnout and managing stress in your personal and professional life. By developing healthy coping mechanisms and incorporating emotional regulation into your daily routine, you can build your emotional strength and resilience and improve your overall well-being.

If you are experiencing burnout or having difficulty regulating your emotions, it is important to implement strategies and seek professional help if you’re unable to accomplish it on your own. With the right support and strategies, you can overcome burnout, which will enable you to find greater balance and live a happier, healthier life.

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