Everyone has to deal with relapse during or after a burnout. You seem to be doing much better and you have a little bit of energy again. You think you can do all sorts of things again, but then you feel as if you are back to square one.

Fortunately, that is not usually the case. But if you relapse into old behaviour too early, it can have a major effect on your recovery. Do you also wonder why almost everyone has a relapse? How can you cope with a relapse? And can you prevent a relapse?

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Why relapse during burnout?

You probably have a burnout, because you are someone who works hard, is driven and always loads everything on your plate. This behaviour belongs to you and you don’t change just like that. After you have been home ill for a long time and you start to get a little bit of energy again, you immediately become enthusiastic.

You think you can get back to work. But you forget that your body is just recovering from a burnout. You start doing too much too soon and you go over your limits again.

In the event of a burnout, your body is, as it were, in protest. You are burned out. You just can’t do it anymore. When you seem to be doing better after a while and you start doing a lot of things right away, you will have to grope deep into your reserves again, because you haven’t been able to build up that much energy yet.

Your body protests again to protect itself. You may experience symptoms such as fatigue, muscle tension or anxiety and panic attacks again. Fortunately, these complaints usually take much less time than at the beginning of the burnout. How do you cope with this relapse?

Accept the relapse during burnout

You want to get better so badly. You notice that you are in the spiral upwards and you want nothing more than to have energy and be able to do everything again. Just pick up the daily routine. It is logical that you have this strong desire and therefore sometimes go beyond your limits.

If you find that you have gone far beyond your limits, you would do well to accept that you need a ‘crash day’. Sometimes one day is enough, but if you need several days you will have to take your time patiently. Deepening yourself in the physical and mental recovery process will help you to feel good again sooner.

Just as in the beginning you had to accept that you have a burnout, you have to accept that you have a relapse. This can be difficult for you. Admitting that you have a relapse can feel like admitting that you have failed in your recovery process. But this is not the way to look at a relapse. Recovery from a burnout is a process of trial and error.

Accept that you have fallen, but don’t lie down. By accepting the relapse, you can analyse the cause of it. What have you done wrong? Did you want to do too much too soon? Did you not dare to say ‘no’, because you don’t want to be an appointee? Think of a relapse as something you can learn a lot from. You discover what you still need to grow into.

Feelings in case of a relapse during burnout

Even if you have accepted the relapse, you can feel terribly rotten. During a burnout, many emotions play up which are amplified by the disrupted hormonal system. As a result, the emotions you experience during a relapse will also be more intense. You may experience frustration, depressive feelings, anger (at yourself or at those around you) and resignation (you are no longer interested in anything).

Much has been said:

  • I will never be okay again.
  • I don’t like my life any more.
  • My burnout will never go away.
  • How often does this happen to me?
  • Am I really never going to learn?
  • Why does nobody understand my burnout?
  • I will never be able to function normally again.
  • I will never get much energy again.

Remember that you are not a burnout, you have one. Never allow burnout to determine your life. Accept that you will recover by trial and error, but do not give in to feelings such as ‘I will never get better’ or ‘I will never be able to function normally again’.

In the event of a relapse, you tend to concentrate on everything that goes wrong and everything you can’t do yet, while there are still a lot of things that are going well. During the burnout, you could keep a record of what you do every day. That way you can see that your situation is improving little by little.

Relapse during burnout

Preventing relapse during burnout

Can you prevent a relapse during burnout? Unfortunately not always. It is not the case that you suddenly learn so many skills during a burnout that you have completely broken old patterns of behaviour. In part, a relapse is part of the recovery process. Recovering from a burnout is a process of trial and error.

There are two things you can do to reduce the risk of relapse. Firstly, learn to guard your borders and not to cross them. You are burned out because you have difficulty defining your limits. And this can also become the cause of a relapse. Therefore, learn to know your limits well and to indicate them.

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Another cause of a relapse during burnout is also one of the primary causes of burnout: a lack of autonomy. A lack of autonomy allows others to determine your life. Others are in charge of your life. You try to please others as much as possible, you are very insecure and you work far beyond your capabilities.

You are always trying to live for someone else. This exhausts you, makes you no longer authentic and eventually leads to a burnout or a relapse during burnout. If you want to prevent a relapse during burnout, you would do well to become more autonomous. You can start by getting to know yourself well. Know who you are and what you want, so that you can make good choices.

Of course, it is not easy to accept a relapse and recover again. You often come across yourself. But as long as you recover more than you consume energy, you climb out of the valley again. Before you know it, after trial and error, you have finally recovered from the burnout.

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Training and coaching

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