Burnout is a severe problem in our society. For athletes, burnout often means that you’ll need to take time off to rest and recover. Although athletes can bounce back from burnout and get back to their sport, you’re much better off if you can avoid it in the first place.
What is Burnout?
Different people define burnout differently, but essentially, burnout is exhaustion as a result of chronic stress. There are multiple stages to burnout. Usually, it begins with a loss of excitement and staleness regarding something you once loved. You may be approaching burnout if you stop having the energy and motivation to train. You might even start to think about quitting.
To prevent burnout, you must monitor your stress levels. Burnout can happen even when you aren’t feeling particularly stressed about your training or your sport. For example, if you’re going through a hard time with your family or at work, that type of stress still affects you and can lead to burnout.
If you recognize that you’re experiencing a high amount of stress (in your sport or life), make it a priority to relieve stress regularly. Stress relief methods look different to everyone. Find an activity that rejuvenates you that is not related to your sport. You can try breathing exercises, meditating, yoga, journaling, getting a massage, or a night out with friends.
Try to surround yourself with positive people who support you. Reach out to those people when you need help. Tell them what you’re struggling with and lean on them when necessary. Remember that getting help when needed is a sign of strength, not weakness.
It’s also helpful to change up your environment now and then, especially if you’ve been training the same way for an extended period of time. Do something new and exciting. Don’t let your routine become too mundane. Try to remember why you are an athlete in the first place.
If you do burn out, you need to take a break from training. Your body and mind need time to recover. You can still do some rejuvenating physical activity, but it’s best to take a break from your sport. If you’re a runner and you can’t keep still, for example, try walking or some gentle yoga. Taking a break may feel counterintuitive, but you’re actually doing what’s best for your performance. You can’t perform at your best until you’ve recovered.