Work-Life Balance, Jobs, Internships, Millenials in the Workplace, Preventing Burnout, Organizing, Scheduling
CAREER / 14 December 2016
How to Prevent Burnout: Finding a Healthy Work-life Balance
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Hannah Son
Content Writer
Redondo Beach

I’m going to be real with you for a second: I am no stranger to burnout and being overwhelmed. I have spent the last five months piecing myself back together after a semester of over commitments and sleep deprivation sent me down a dark tunnel of emotional turmoil and depression. It’s not a fun or glamorous story to tell, but it’s one I share to hopefully encourage others to put themselves first.

 It took leaving school and moving across the country, but I can now see with great clarity what mistakes I made that compromised my mental health, and what steps I should take in the future to avoid going down the same path. 

I broke down the key takeaways I’ve gathered from the past few months of introspection, and have tailored them to be applicable to any ambitious millennial who has a lot on their plate (read here for more on ambitious millennials)

Learn to Say No

This one is hard for people pleasers like myself, but saying no is an essential yet underrated skill that will help carry you through life. Millennials are notorious for our tendency to overcommit. We want the most padded resumes and most prestigious references - and in many cases, that means saying ‘yes’ to any opportunity that comes our way - whether it’s something that we’ll find joy from or not. This can lead to burnout and lack of morale; here are 13 signs that you may be on the edge of burning out. 

Action Tip: Before agreeing to anything, ask yourself these two questions: “Realistically, do I have time to take on this commitment?” and “What is my motivation in accepting this offer?” Evaluate your answers and make a decision from there.  

Create a Schedule

For a lot of us, we’ve gotten this far by essentially ‘winging it.’ We go in without a plan and only a rough to-do list in the back of our minds and it’s gotten us this far. But when you have a million different things going on, relying on memory alone is not only irresponsible, but stressful. I constantly made mental checklists of what needed to get done, but at the end of the day, I couldn’t fall asleep - instead I laid awake worrying that I may have missed something important.

Action Tip: Buy a planner, desk calendar, or even just a notebook where you can jot down commitments and have a visual representation of what you need to get done in the future. Staying organized is the key to staying sane!

Understand There’s No Shame in Quitting

If you feel your emotional health start to deteriorate, the first thing that you should do is evaluate how you are spending your time. I realized I devoted a lot of time and energy doing things that I hated. For example, I was on the board of a nonprofit that didn’t actually do anyone any good, yet I stayed on purely for vanity. Saying I was on the board made me feel impressive, even though the organization had no real direction.

Action Tip: Think about how you spend your time and what tasks ultimately drain you. If you find that there is one thing that stands out as detrimental - try and find a way out.

Schedule Time to Unwind

Remember that schedule we were talking about earlier? Well, make sure you pencil in some personal time. We’ve all had those weeks where we work from the time we get out of bed until our head hits the pillow at the end of the night and those weeks are the worst. (read here about just how important sleep is!) But if that’s the norm for you, you might have a problem. At the end of the day, we all have a million things that we could be doing, but ultimately, you need to put yourself and your mental health first.

Action Tip: Even if it’s just taking a twenty minute walk, or going through a meditation on headspace, do something for you that has no other purpose than to bring you peace.


Something that I’m still guilty of to this day is being tied to my phone. I check my email hourly, often waking up at three or four to my phone alerting me to a new message. Instead of rolling over or silencing my phone, I always check.It’s hard to truly relax or enjoy the moment if you are always worried about what might come into your work email. 

Action Tip: Turn off your alerts - this goes for email and social media. Be in the moment. If you need to check or find yourself with an extra few minutes use that time to catch up. If nothing else, I hope that your main takeaway is that you should limit the things that drain you (be productive with your time and do things that motivate you!). Make commitments because they are fulfilling to you, or because you believe in their larger purpose - not because you think they will make you look good. Of course, that’s not to say that you should never do something that you don’t want to do. 

Unfortunately, life isn’t that easy. But by focusing your time on doing what you love and cutting back on what you don’t, you’ll have the energy to move past hurdles and commitments that you can’t escape.   

Hi guys! I’m Morgan - a twenty year old college student slowly working on taking over the world! On Mostly Morgan you’ll find fashion, college advice, blogging advice, random musings, and more!