In a society such as ours, which is fast paced and stressful, it’s easy to get burned out. And if you’re in recovery, you might easily get triggered at work, among friends, or with family. It might get easier and easier to feel the emotional stress of your life. And if stress gets too high, then there’s chance for relapse. If you can avoid getting burned out, you can avoid relapse and maintain a healthy sobriety.

Burnout can creep up on you. It happens gradually. It can slowly build until finally you might feel like you’re going to explode. Despite this, there are signs of burnout to look for. The following are signs that might point to a building burnout:

  • -Feeling edgy or irritable
  • -Anger
  • -Racing thoughts
  • -Decreased ability to make decisions
  • -Poor memory
  • -Feeling spacey or out of it
  • -Disturbed sleep
  • -Increased anxiety
  • -Feeling like life is worthless
  • -Feeling hopeless and/or helpless
  • -Feeling disconnected to things emotionally
  • -Feeling overwhelmed
  • -Feeling like a failure
  • -Losing touch with the meaning of things in your life


If you notice any of the above signs, or even if you simply know that you’re approaching getting burned out, one incredibly important step to take is to create time for yourself. You might need to take the day off of work, take a bath, go for a walk, call a friend, etc. It’s essential that you take time to take good care of yourself.  This is a powerful antidote to burnout. You might:

  • -Stop focusing on work, emotional triggers, or the stress you’re facing.
  • -Give yourself time to talk about it with a friend
  • -Give yourself time to cry, if you need to.
  • -Get creative.


Also, if you’re feeling close to a relapse, you might also try one or more of the following suggestions to strengthen your sobriety:

Make a list of how recovery is helping you. It won’t be long when you’ll have friends, and perhaps the lifestyle that you want, but without the drinking and drug use. Recovery itself is a powerful force. Focusing on what you’re getting out of it might help you move out of recovery burnout.

Make a list of why you would never return to using. Although you are burnt out, relapsing is not an alternative. If you can remind yourself of the challenges, difficulties, and hardships you experienced while you were using, you might appreciate what recovery is doing for you. Of course, you don’t have to spend too much time on this because it might stir up difficult feelings. Once you feel grateful for the recovery process you’re in, move on to something else.

Discover ways to strengthen your recovery. Is there someone you can think of in your circle of new friends that might be someone to spend more time with? Would he or she make recovery a bit more engaging? Is there an activity or group that you could bring to your community that might make recovery what you want? And perhaps for others too?

Burnout can be a significant challenge. If you notice this in your life, first take significant time to take care of yourself. Then, you might boost your recovery to avoid relapse and stay sober.

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