Mental Health Recovery Burnout Is Real and It's a Problem

May 4, 2021 Megan Griffith

I learned the hard way that mental health recovery burnout is a real thing. It turns out, recovery isn't something you can work tirelessly toward and eventually achieve, like an award. Instead, it's more like something you slowly chip away at until one day you realize the work is a lot easier than it used to be. But recovery is never really over or complete, at least not in my case, which means working frantically to recover will only lead to one thing: burnout.

What Is Mental Health Recovery Burnout?

In order to know how to prevent burnout, we have to start with what burnout even is. Burnout is what happens when you go too hard too fast and don't give yourself a break. Burnout is feeling like everything is your top priority, and you don't know where to start. Essentially, burnout is stress-induced exhaustion caused by constant demands on your time and energy. If you're putting too much pressure on yourself to recover too quickly, you can easily burn out.

Despite knowing all this, I've experienced recovery burnout several times. The path to recovery burnout looks like reading nine different self-help books at the same time (and listening to even more audiobooks or podcasts), setting huge recovery goals and setting far too short a timeline for achieving those goals, and implementing new recovery habits like journaling on a rigid, daily basis with no flexibility.

After a few weeks of this, or even just a few days, you will surely burn out. Recovery burnout typically involves feeling irritable, giving up on all the self-help books and podcasts, questioning whether therapy is really working, or even potentially feeling hopeless about your ability to recover at all.

How to Prevent Mental Health Recovery Burnout

The best way to prevent recovery burnout is through slow, sustainable steps toward improvement. Instead of trying to sprint a marathon, try power walking. Maybe instead of reading every self-help book on the shelves, pick two and start there. Focus on creating a mindset that says recovery is a lifelong goal rather than a short-term, right-now goal. Finally, it's important to recognize the signs of recovery burnout so you can slow yourself down before you burn out completely.

If you're feeling irritable and impatient, or if you keep flipping back and forth between feeling like you're completely recovered right this moment and feeling like you'll never be able to recover, then you might be headed for burnout. Know the signs and give yourself extra self-care when you feel yourself cruising for burnout.

Have you experienced mental health recovery burnout? Tell me all about it in the comments below.

APA Reference
Griffith, M. (2021, May 4). Mental Health Recovery Burnout Is Real and It's a Problem, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 20 from

Author: Megan Griffith

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Lizanne Corbit
May, 4 2021 at 5:01 pm

Slow, sustainable steps are absolutely crucial and this really goes for so many things. Success in general, not just avoiding burnout. All too often we get ourselves all pumped up, we are eager and ready to go, and then, we burn out. We run ourselves overboard or we just blast past the warning signs and miss the markers to pause and rest. Great share.

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