How Long Will it Take to Recover From Burnout?

Maryam Taheri
9 min readMay 16

Burnout: the word is everywhere these days. Reporters are flooding our feeds with articles on the rise in burnout rates among all generations in the workforce — even among high schoolers. Podcasts and coaches are offering hundreds and thousands of opinions on whether burnout is real or all in your head, how to cope with it, recover from it, push through it — we’re swimming in opinions and hot takes and statistics about burnout each and every day.

But what is burnout, exactly? And if we’re suffering from burnout, how long will recovery take?

Understanding Burnout

The Causes of Burnout

Put simply, burnout is the result of a prolonged stress response in your body. The symptoms are severe and concrete enough that in 2019, the World Health Organization added burnout to the ICD-11, its database of diseases. The cause? “Chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Basically, our bodies are champions of stress responses — it’s what helped keep us alive when lion showed up at the camps of our prehistoric ancestors. Digestion stops in order to send blood to the big muscles of the body, the heart rate increases, and stress hormones flood our bodies in order to heighten our senses, quicken our reflexes, and put us in prime physical condition to escape a threat to our physical safety. After the danger is passed, the body flushes these chemicals and winds down the stress response in order to return to normal life. Ever noticed how your hands shake after something startles you? That shaking is one of the ways your body signals that the danger has passed and allows your body to discharge and shut down the no-longer-needed stress response.

The problem is that our bodies have a great stress response, but it’s not well-suited to modern workplace stressors. Your stress response is triggered by a lion or a bear or a strange noise at night in the woods — but it’s also triggered by your boss calling you into the office, or a deadline you don’t know you’ll meet, grueling hours, or your annual performance review. If your stress response is being constantly triggered and you aren’t allowed to discharge that trauma response effectively, the constant bath of stress hormones, high heart rate, interrupted digestion and other…

Maryam Taheri

Certified Coach, Founder, Advisor, Mindset + Leadership Expert, and Dog Mom