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Episode 15 | March 16, 2020

Let's Talk About Burnout

In this special episode, our first since taking a six-week break, we talk honestly about burnout and how to alleviate it.


Welcome to “That’s a Hard No” – the podcast about saying no (in all its forms) so you can become the authentic and empowered person that this world needs.

Quick disclosure: While Sarah is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, this podcast is in no way replacement for one-on-one therapy with a mental health professionalIf you are struggling with mental health issues, we welcome you on this journey, but also invite you to seek out professional help.

Looking for a therapist? Here’s a good place to start:

Let's talk about burnout | That's a Hard No Podcast
Key Takeaways

If, like us, you’ve been experiencing burnout, it’s no wonder. The past 12+ months have visited previously unknown levels of stress, grief, and anxiety upon us individually and collectively.

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.

A lot of research about burnout focuses on the workplace, but 2020 (and now 2021!) has blurred the lines between work and family life, causing many of us to feel the effects of burnout. During the pandemic, 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. By comparison, in 2019, it was reported as 1 in 10 adults.

If you are experiencing some or all of these symptoms, there’s a good chance it’s related to burnout: 

  • Headaches, stomach aches, muscle tension
  • Irritability (losing your temper much?)
  • Reduced creativity or productivity
  • Feeling overwhelmed and cynical
  • Exhaustion no matter how much sleep you get
  • Anxiousness
  • Feeling down or negative

You’re more susceptible to burnout if you have personality traits and thought patterns related to perfectionism and pessimism.

If you are experiencing burnout, you are at a higher risk for developing depression.

So, what can you do about it? Well, the first step is to acknowledge it then take small steps each day to alleviate it. Here are some approaches that can help:

  • Check in with yourself regularly (“What do I need more of? What do I need less of?”). Say no to the people and things you need less of.
  • Prioritize your basic needs: sleep, nutrition, water, movement.
  • Make time for self-care, even if that just means 5 to 10-minute mini brain breaks. Incorporate breathwork into your breaks. A great exercise to try is breathing in and out slowly 5 times, and with each breath, take note of one of your 5 senses (what do you see, hear, smell, feel, taste?).
  • Create a joy list of all the things that make you truly happy, even little things. Again, think of your 5 senses. What things that you touch (like lotions, or a soft blanket) help you feel calm and relaxed? For smell: maybe a favorite candle or essential oil brightens your mood. Write as many things you can think of for each of your senses, and refer to it when you need to sprinkle joy into your day. Take a photo of your list with your phone so you always have it with you.
  • Reach out and talk to someone, either a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional. If you don’t know where to start, use this link to find a therapist near you.
Resources & Recommendations
  • Book Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski, PhD and Amelia Nagoski, DMA (link to authors’ website)
  • Video – Sarah put a great video up on Instagram about recognizing burnout and how to implement some of the techniques listed above (click here to watch).
  • Time Management Course – This is the online course by illustrator Lisa Congdon that Heather mentioned during the episode (link to Creative Live course).
Credits and Thanks
  • Special thanks to Reanna Karousis of Collective Reach and the Social Distance Happy Hour, who inspired and challenged us to start this podcast and helped us produce our first episode.
  • Thanks also to our families and friends for all their encouragement and support, and to you, our listeners, for joining us on this adventure.
  • That’s a Hard No is a joint production of Clever Girl Marketing and Purposeful Growth & Wellness.
  • Cover art and logo design by Angela Giaco of A Pink Sunset. You can find her at
  • Music: “Whiskey for Lunch” by GG Rigs. (Don’t judge us, you guys. We just like the song.)