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How Burnout Affects Your Relationship, and How to Avoid it

How Burnout Affects Your Relationship, and How to Avoid it

Feeling overwhelmed, anxious, tense and stressed, possibly exploding at any moment and propelling debris towards loved ones and anyone else in your immediate vicinity…? Burnout is a significant issue, it affects both our physical and mental health, and has the potential to seriously affect relationships with all of those closest to us.

We are all at Risk of Burnout.

The busier we are, how much we fill our diaries, the more we schedule and commit to, put on our ‘to-do’ list and take responsibility for, the less time we have to nurture ourselves. Whether you are working, studying or both (and maybe planning a wedding on top of those), the lack of time we give ourselves causes many of us to experience burnout. I know I have.

I am constantly on the go, I have a never-ending to-do list, and I find myself saying “Yes” to everything. As a result, my own wellbeing suffers, and when something goes wrong, I don’t have the physical or mental strength to cope. I’m tired, sick, lack motivation and self-confidence, and catch myself wanting to cry at every opportunity I can. I have burned myself out, and perhaps the worst thing about it is the effect it has had on my relationships.

Burnous can cause Major Strain to Relationships.

The negative effects of burnout spill over into every area of life – your home, work, and social life will all be affected.

Being in a negative mindset can lead to constantly taking your frustrations out your partner and close friends. Even though they love and support you, when you are down, this is likely to rub off on them, creating unnecessary arguments and tension between  you. If you are exhausted and overwhelmed, you are likely to find yourself getting irritated at the littlest things, like the way someone has stacked the dishwasher. These little things, add up, and if unchecked, have the capacity to build up to bigger fights.

Burnout can also see you isolating yourself. Loved ones want to support us, especially when we are going through a rough time. If you keep cancelling date nights with your partner or don’t feel like hanging out with your friends, they may start to feel helpless, and like they can’t help you. Watching someone you love experience burnout can be frightening. It is easy for your partner to start questioning if the behaviour during a burnout is the new normal for your relationship.

The Importance Of Self-Care in Your Daily Routine to Avoid Burnout

Burnout is a gradual process, subtle at first, escalating  as time goes on. Think of the first symptoms as ‘red flags’ to alert you that something is wrong, and needs to be addressed. If you pay attention early and act to reduce your stress, you can prevent a major breakdown. If you ignore them, you’ll eventually burn out.

The first symptoms of burnout are:

  • Feeling exhausted, tired and drained most of the time.
  • Sense of failure and doubting yourself.
  • Lowered immunity, feeling sick and run-down a lot.
  • Change in appetite, sleep or exercise habits.
  • Loss of motivation to work or exercise.
  • Feeling helpless, detached, alone and defeated.
  • Increasingly cynical, and feeling like nothing you do makes a difference.
  • Headaches or muscle pain.

When you begin feeling like that, for some of us, the first reaction is to withdraw even further from our friends and partners, stop exercising and eat junk or ‘comfort’ foods. Put simply, we stop caring for ourselves.

Self-care is something that many of us women are guilty of not prioritising or even guilty of not choosing correctly. Self-care is crucial to avoid burnout and the strain on relationships that coincide, and it’s also the key to getting through burnout when it occurs. For many, there is a perception that this means taking hours out of your day, which feels especially hard when you are already overwhelmed. However, this does not need to be the case.

If wedding planning is causing the issue, take some time out away from it, remind yourself of what’s important to you both and why you’re choosing to get married, rather than getting wrapped up in the stress of it. You can also read mental health while wedding planning.

If you feel like you have no spare time, but are aware that your busy life and demanding schedule sometimes lead you to feeling burned out, include as many of the following tips in your day-to-day routine:

Self-Care Tips to Avoid, and Overcome Burnout

1. Go for a walk

It probably sounds like the most obvious solution, but when you’re at risk of being burned out, there is nothing better than a calming walk, even if it means reducing your high-intensity exercise to make time for this. Walking is so beneficial for many reasons.

When we are feeling close to a burnout, going to the gym to do a hard, high intensity workout may actually not be the best decision, and is one that I have to remind myself of constantly. Doing a boxing class may seem like a good idea to blow off some steam and forget about all of our stresses, but once the class is over, all the stresses can come flooding back in, and adrenaline can actually make them worse. I also tend to wear myself out even more than I already am, resulting in a burnout.

Even if it is just a 20 minute walk, though you might not be burning many calories, you are still moving your body without putting any stress on your body, allowing it to rest and restore. Take your headphones, turn your phone on ‘do not disturb’ and allow yourself to do some thinking. This could include making a realistic plan of everything you want to achieve this week, or just switching off from ‘goals’ and allowing yourself to be grateful for your life and changing your mindset to be positive and motivated.

This week, I took four days off the gym, giving myself time to rest and recover. While meditation isn’t something I enjoy, I will often go to a yoga class to relax too, sometimes taking Blair with me.

2. At home beauty therapy

Many of us do not always have the time (or sometimes the money) to go to the beautician to get a facial or a pedicure. So long as we’re taking the time out, it’s just as beneficial to do it ourselves. I know I always feel better when I feel clean and well presented, which might just mean painting my nails. Run a bath with a relaxing bath bomb, paint your nails and apply a face mask for 20 minutes. The best thing about this is that you are in the comfort of your own home. Beauty and skincare can help you feel new again and to also feel ready to conquer that next challenge.

Personally, if I can make the time, I will sometimes make my night-time skin ritual a 20 minute one, rather than a 2 minute slap-dash-cleanse. Instead of rushing the process, I treat each part of the process as a night-time wind-down, and even choose products which will help me get to sleep each night. Every night, I massage my face for one minute with my cleanser, before applying soothing serums and a night cream with sleep-inducing qualities.

 3. A self-date

There are so many things that we can feel too scared to do by ourselves which we normally do with other people. These can include going to the movies, going to a café or even going to the zoo alone. All of these things can feel so good for our soul and are so much fun. Doing these things by ourselves allows us to feel comfortable in our own skin and teaches us to not be scared to really think about what’s going on in our life.

It also gives you an opportunity to find some fun and creative dates to do with your partner if you loved doing it by yourself, it would be so much fun with the one you love.

4. Write it all down.

Writing things down can be a great way to unwind, and get things that are stressing you out off your chest, especially if you feel like you cannot talk to anyone about what is going on. Journalling is amazing therapy. It is also a good opportunity to be able to get all your thoughts together that are making your head spin. It might make you realise that things aren’t actually as bad as you thought. Two books I have for couples to do just that are ‘our love story‘ and ‘I still do‘, while our ‘note to self’ one is ideal to do just to get your own thoughts on paper.

If you don’t feel like writing about what is stressing you out, you could instead write about some of your favourite memories, or set goals for the future. 

Pictured: note to self – self care journal

gratitude journal nz prompts wellness mindfulness notebook 1

5. Food

Food is so important for our bodies to function ,and when we are busy, it is something that many of us do not prioritise, especially when shit hits the fan. Balance is key. Nourishing your body with nutrients from fruit and vegetables can really help in times of stress, giving you more energy to help you push through and also making you feel less bloated and meh.

However, I know I always know that treating myself to baking or chocolate or and ice-cream helps brighten my spirits when I am down. Foods like this are totally good for our souls in moderation, so don’t beat yourself for buying a caramel slice to go with your coffee when you need a pick me up.

Food can also be a great way to practice self-care together. Baking and cooking is also a good way to destress after a long day at work or study and it’s a nice way to remind your partner you love them, even when you’re not the happiest person to be around.

6. Switch Off (Work, your computer… even Social-Media)

While some of us have the luxury of leaving our “work” at the office, many of us, including myself, do not. Realistically, even those who only work while at the physical premise, completely switching off from work is difficult to do. Further, even if social media is completely unrelated to your job, it is still a stimulant, and not conducive to relaxing.

Sometimes, it’s better to just completely switch off from social media, whether that’s by setting rules to limit your devices (i.e. not taking your phone to bed) or putting it in your bag when you get home from work. I’ve completely stopped using my phone over the last few days, and when I checked today, I’d only spent 80 minutes per day on my phone since Friday (including all texts, phone calls and even responding to urgent emails).

This will both help with feelings of being burned out, and encourage you to focus on those around you, reducing the effect of your burnout on your relationships.

7. Talk to someone else

When you are really feeling burned out, you may be complaining about it more than you realise, and it’s likely that one (or maybe two) people are on the receiving end of all of it. To avoid your burnout having a negative effect on your closest relationships, especially that with your partner, find someone else to talk to. Find another colleague or friend to lend an ear, or even look to an online group for support.

No matter how much your partner loves you, listening to you complain all the time just isn’t good for your relationship.


Remember, it is totally ok to be selfish and take time out for yourself, and crucial to both avoiding, and getting through burnout and maintain your relationships in the process. You can only look after and love other people, if you first take the time to love and look after yourself.

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