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How to tell if you are in Burnout as a Highly Sensitive Person

Are you HSP or an empath and unsure if you are in burnout? Are you feeling done and struggling to get through the day? In this article, we’ll talk about the difference between overwhelm and burnout and some strategies for burnout recovery.

What is Burnout?

Burnout is most commonly thought of as stress and overwhelm from your job’ but there are other forms of burnout. There can be burnout from being a caregiver, a student, and from relationships. Burnout develops from being in a highly demanding or high workload environment and/or not having support.  This could be someone having a lot of workload at their job, taking in too much information as a student, or feeling overloaded as a caregiver.  

How is it Different as a Highly Sensitive Person or Empath?

As a highly sensitive person or empath, you're more in tune with things in your environment. You are more likely to pick up on the toxic workplace talk or the heavy workload. Sensitive people are also more empathic and can have a harder time setting boundaries because they put themselves on the back burner.  This can lead to more on your plate and less time for yourself.

Overwhelm vs. Burnout

Overwhelm can lead to a place of burnout. As a highly sensitive person, your nervous system can get overwhelmed more quickly because you are taking in more information and processing it constantly. This can lead to spending more time in overwhelm if you're not taking care of yourself and if this continues over long periods it can lead to burnout.

 If you’re in a place of constant overwhelm along with feeling like you cannot meet the demands of your life, you're most likely already burnout. Overwhelmed is saying I'm done with the day vs. burnout is saying I'm done with my job or this relationship.

Burnout Recovery as a Highly Sensitive Person

1.       Cope with the overwhelm

Coping with feeling overwhelmed can help you bring down some of the intensity, and give you a clear mind to think about what your next steps are. Coping with feeling overwhelmed alone will not get you out of burnout because it's also making changes to your life to reduce the demands you are feeling.


As an empath, you need time to process the day and to soothe that overwhelm. When you notice feelings of overwhelm creeping in take a break, engage in a self-soothing activity, or have a cup of tea.


If you're in a place of constantly feeling overwhelmed it can take some time before it starts to come down. Integrate as many daily calming activities as you can and make time to engage in deep processing.

2.       Focus on what adds meaning and value to your life

It can be easy to burnout if you have little that gives you meaning. Connect to your values and connect to things that give you a sense of purpose and meaning. Maybe it's engaging in mindful play with your child. Check out this video for info on values.

3.       Make long-term changes

The first two steps help to fill your cup up again as you connect to things that are meaningful and create time to manage overwhelm and burnout. However; if you're not changing what contributed to the burnout in the first place it will return. This last step helps to prevent burnout from returning by making lasting changes in your life.

Sit down and think about long-term how can you reduce the demand in your environment or increase the support you are receiving. Maybe this means reducing your work hours, looking for another job, scheduling your time outside of work to allow for lots of downtime, setting boundaries with friends, letting go of perfectionism, or ending toxic relationships.

You can create a list of all the demands in your life and all the supports you have. Look at what demands carry the most weight and what demands are easy to get rid of. Look at your supports and review are there more supports you can add?


Burnout can be sneaky because it builds over time, and you learn to adjust. Chances are if you are questioning if you're in burnout you probably are. Taking time to plan out how you're going to manage your burnout can be a great first step. If you’re looking for more support about burnout recovery you can contact me.  


DISCLAIMER The content in this blog and all future blog posts is for educational purposes only and is not a replacement or substitute for mental health or medical care.


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