Burnout Culture: How Can We Avoid It?

image shows a woman sitting on a block with red string for a head. A hand at the bottom is holding the cube and a hand at the top is holding the red string.

Burnout culture. The stress-filled dream so many of us seem to be chasing..

But.. How can we just not? How can we pursue our creative dreams without overextending our efforts into every corner of our lives? Is burnout inevitable?

Looking around it’s not hard to see how burnout culture is taking its toll. From YouTube to Instagram to TikTok, influencers, content creators and other solopreneurs and business owners are paring back or throwing in the towel completely on the businesses they’ve built for years. 

They’re tired. They’ve been slogging, posting, blogging, creating, posting some more, creating more… Even those who have reached a level of success that is mind-blowing have been reassessing their lives and deciding that they want to live the life they have worked so hard to build.

And there are so many of us who have also hit a level of burnout that is cause for a pause..


But first.. What exactly is burnout culture?

In 2019, the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) explained burnout as a syndrome that “refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context…resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” The W.H.O. was quite specific that burnout “should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”

In this article, I’m going to use the W.H.O. definition of burnout, but in addition to external workplaces, I also want to include those of us who work for ourselves or have our hands in both our “jobby job” and an entrepreneurial venture. 

Burnout culture seems to encapsulate American work culture, and as many of us find our new footing in a post-pandemic world, we’re feeling the pressure of having to produce the work we do, and also produce the social proof of our work, “making content” to engage with the social communities we’re a part of.

And when you factor in all of the social media demands of the new business model, doesn’t burnout culture sound an awful lot like hustle culture?


What’s the difference between hustle culture and burnout culture?

Honestly – not much. They’re cut from the same cloth: long hours “hustling” to get a million things done, launched, marketed, posted, rinsed, repeated. I tend to think hustle culture refers more to entrepreneurs, and burnout culture refers more to corporate workplace cultures, but since the result is usually the same, I may refer to them interchangeably in this post.


What are the signs that burnout culture or hustle culture is negatively affecting you?

This is a personal experience. But according to the World Health Organization, burnout symptoms include feelings of exhaustion, cynicism and reduced efficacy. 

So if you’re feeling more and more irritable, maybe a bit hopeless, and just tired to the bone, you probably won’t be surprised to hear you may be burning out. And friend, if this is the case, it’s a really good idea to face it and start to contemplate solutions. 


How can we avoid burning out in our jobs?

Sometimes the reality is that burnout is hard to avoid when we’re working at a job that demands a really high level of output and production. Assessing whether this job is a good fit is the first step. 

Some workplaces go at a pace that just doesn’t work for all people. And sometimes the pace really is a neverending race. Advocating for ourselves is really important if the workload truly feels impossible. If you love your job and really do want to make it work (but a little less intensely) be sure to speak up and take care of yourself. And show up to the conversation with some solutions. If you’re in a healthy workplace, hopefully your ideas will make a difference and you can make some shifts toward more balance.

If you are burned out because your workplace is actually a toxic environment and your ideas are not valued, it’s probably time to get your resume updated and start the hunt for something better. This is a hard place to be.. It’s not always so cut and dry.. But it’s so important to keep your mind open for work where your ideas and talents are valued.

How can entrepreneurs and business owners build businesses with less hustle?

Having a vision and a goal that you’re working toward is what makes the journey have meaning. So keep that goal in mind as you work the daily grind of business activities.

When it comes to entrepreneurial endeavors, if you’re just starting out on a new business venture, sometimes the start up work is a lot. It’s a grind. We know our output won’t really be compensated yet but we have to invest more time and energy in the beginning to get this thing going.

Even if you’re running on the hamster wheel now, if you want to divest from burnout culture and hustle culture in your future, set strategic goals and envision a future that includes a slow down of this kind of hustling. Set goals that allow you to grow, while also finding a slower growth pace if that works better for you personally.

You don’t have to continue to grow and grow, to build and build. And you don’t have to be married to all of the social media platforms. I see a lot of content creators and business personalities paring back on their social media posting. I think we all have to assess just how much of a long-term commitment we can make to a slew of social media platforms, and determine how much of this effort is truly building our business.

Stay true to your vision for your future and your “why.” Ask yourself if your efforts are building this dream, and if not, can you let those go?


What is the opposite of hustle culture or burnout culture? 

I don’t really know, to be honest. But I think a great alternative to living in a constant state of burnout is to get clear on the life, work, business, etc. that you want to create for yourself; then figure out what you need to do consistently, and what can let go of to keep moving in the direction of your dreams without doing everything.

Determine the kind of work that makes you feel alive, and do what you can to do more of that. Satisfaction in your work is one of the gleaming antidotes to feeling depleted and burned. Building a more meaningful and less hustle-burnout kind of life means taking consistent steps to avoid burning out.


What habits can I practice to avoid burnout and find more enjoyment in my work?

  • Basic nurturing: get enough sleep, eat nourishing food, and get some movement in every day. We tend to neglect our basic needs when we’re overwhelmed. But try to prepare for super busy times by grabbing some easy healthy snacks, walking a few minutes here and there, and making sure to get as much sleep as you can. It’s hard. But it’s this basic self care that will give you the fortitude to handle the s#it you know is coming.
  • Let go of what isn’t necessary, and let go of things that aren’t yours to handle. Setting boundaries is vital to your wellbeing, and if you often feel obligated to do things for others, this one is for you. Practice makes progress.. Good luck out there, I’m learning right alongside you, this one can be a challenge..
  • Learn how to notice and respond to your stress. I’ve become pretty good at feeling disconnected from my own body, which is usually where stress starts to manifest and make itself known. But if I pay attention, I can get ahead of a meltdown. Learning how to tune into our body’s stress signals can help us get a handle on stressful emotions before they take over, and that is incredibly important. Take it from me, sometimes a loose cannon when I don’t pay attention to my own body’s stress signals.
  • Break away and connect with people and activities outside of work. Having a support network is vital for us all. And breaking away from the stress of work is super necessary. Get some endorphins, have some friendly banter, bounce your ideas off of some pals and come back to the work with a whole new sense of work life balance…
  • Make time to do some things that really bring you joy and satisfaction. And as you do them, envision your life with more of that. The only way you will make time for the things that bring you joy is to make time for those things. And five minutes really does count. And so does an hour. Build a habit of it, and it adds up. Before you know it you’re all joy and satisfaction 😉


It can be hard to beat burnout in this fast paced race of a life. It feels like life keeps getting busier and busier, doesn’t it? But staying focused on what is truly important can guide us into our future bobbing above and seeing beyond the sea of distractions.

Wishing you much luck in combatting and conquering the hustle of burnout culture. May your work be meaningful, your tasks be satisfying, and your social media be strategic.


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