If You're Struggling With Burnout, Therapists Suggest These 12 Stress-Relieving Items

Experts say burnout can have real negative impacts on your life — but little tools can go a long way.
"Burnout" by Emily and Amelia Nagoski, a plush yoga mat and an aromatherapy diffuser.
"Burnout" by Emily and Amelia Nagoski, a plush yoga mat and an aromatherapy diffuser.

Stress and I are longtime pals. For myself — and many people — it’s typically a combination of an overloaded schedule, extenuating life circumstances and a recurring case of productivity guilt that’s to blame for this toxic friendship. But what happens to your mental health when this stress goes on for too long?

Allison Funk, a New York State licensed psychologist at the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy, said that when stress-inducing life factors become your habit, the result can often be burnout, a colloquial concept that, although isn’t a standalone medical diagnoses, is still recognized by the World Health Organization as a “workplace phenomenon” that can negatively impact your physical and mental well-being.

“Burnout is considered to have three dimensions: Exhaustion or depleted energy, feelings of detachment or cynicism towards one job and reduced achievement or productivity at work,” Funk said, adding that these symptoms are not unlike the telltale symptoms of depression.

But burnout isn’t always job-related. Funk said that it can include stress relating to caregiving and parenting, academic burnout, relationships and compassion fatigue.

According to Meaghan Rice, a nationally board-certified counselor with the online therapy platform Talkspace, the ultimate salve and prevention for burnout is often self care. And little investments go a long way.

“Make a conscientious effort to incorporate the following into each day: physical movement, drinking enough water, eating healthy meals on a regular schedule, pushing for a full night’s rest,” Rice suggested.

The million dollar question then is how can we still meet the demands and responsibilities of life and work, while still taking Rice’s advice to take the time for ourselves?

In addition to some necessary introspection and always seeking professional help when you need it, there are also some handy tools at your disposal. Read below to see what these and other experts suggest, from mindfulness apps to comforting weighted blankets or the guidance held inside international bestselling books.

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Emily and Amelia Nagoski's work on breaking stressful cycles
The written works of sex therapist Emily Nagoski have been recommended to us before with enthusiastic endorsement from other mental health experts. Now, her book "Burnout," which was written alongside her twin sister Amelia Nagoski, comes suggested by Kim Bielak, a licensed marriage and family therapist based in Southern California.

"Nagoski's book is primarily written for women or woman-identifying folx, but it's a great place to start to learn more about both the science behind the stress cycle, as well as some of the cultural aspects that can contribute to burnout," Bielak said about this research-centric work that's all about learning how to make vital space in your life to do the things we enjoy. It also has an accompanying workbook that features engaging exercises, guides and more so readers can apply Nagoski's advice in real time.
A guided mindfulness and meditation app
Bielak often suggests to her clients who are experiencing burnout to invest in a daily meditation app like Headspace. This platform can be easily accessed on your phone to offer mental health support in the palm of your hand. It features a variety of resources from guided meditations to sleep tracks to mindful eating programs and much more.

"Having a daily mindfulness practice can help teach us how to more effectively slow down, work with stress, and take a break, even when it feels impossible," Bielak said.
An adult coloring book
Bielak is a proponent of items that can help a burnout-sufferer "turn off" and one such product she mentioned are adult coloring books. One of the most popular Amazon options that we found is this book by artist Jade Summer that features 100 different easy-to-color mandala patterns printed on bleed-proof pages.
A bestseller on how to build healthy habits
Meaghan Rice, a nationally board-certified counselor with the online therapy platform Talkspace, suggested the international bestseller "Atomic Habits" by James Clear. According to Rice, this book teaches us how to break apart good habits into bite size chunks, including breaking away from patterns that are causing our burnout in the first place.

"The easier we make good habits, the more likely they are to stick and the higher the capacity to drown out the bad habits that keep us feeling completely overwhelmed," she said.
A cooling weighted blanket
Another relaxing-inducing item that comes at the suggestion of Bielak is a weighted blanket, a popular lounge essential that can offer anxiety relief. This bamboo blanket by popular bedding brand, Luna, is the perfect option for hot sleepers thanks to its 100% lyocell construction that promotes airflow and is antimicrobial and cool to the touch. This silky soft blanket is available in sizes full through king, in weights of 10 to 25 pounds and over 32 colors and patterns. You can also shop a highly rated Amazon-exclusive version if you can't find the color, size or weight that you're looking for.
A popular dual-sip water bottle
Bielak, along with others, stress the importance of taking time to hydrate and that having "a good quality water bottle" can help with this. "Make self care like drinking water a bit more enjoyable," Bielak said.

When it comes to making hydration actually fun, we endorse the famed Owala FreeSip water bottle, an adored drinking vessel for a few reasons: It's fully leakproof, easy to clean, keeps contents cold or hot thanks to the double-wall insulated design and features dual drinking options: straw or swig. It comes in four sizes ranging from 16- to 40-ounces and tons of cool color combinations.
A pair of luxury tencel fabric pajamas
"If I can help a client make a ritual for transitioning from work to home (like changing into pajamas signals no more work), give them a way to actually turn off, or make self care a bit more enjoyable, then we have a chance at making more of the lifestyle changes preventing and recovering from burnout requires," Bielak said.

Based on her suggestion of getting "a nice pair of pajamas" we knew of one such luxe option that came to mind. Eberjey is known for their high-end, dream-like sleepwear and this pajama set is made with one of the brand's most sumptuous and well-known fabrics: an impeccably soft tencel. They are cooling, breathable and available in sizes for both men and women.

If you're curious about a more affordable option, we are big fans of a viral pair from Target that many claim are similar to Eberjey's luxury version. I can personally attest to their soft, cooling and wildly comfortable feel, though their availability is generally pretty spotty due to their popularity so I suggest hopping on your specific size and favorite color when you can.
An aromatherapy diffuser and humidifier
Bisma Anwar, a licensed therapist with Talkspace, told HuffPost about the potential benefits of diffusers, stating that essential oils like lavender or eucalyptus can have calming effects and can create a soothing environment.

We found this highly rated aromatherapy diffuser and humidifier combo which can be used with or without water. It offers up to eight hours of misting time and can be toggled between eight different ambient light settings to be used as a nightlight or create the ideal atmosphere for meditation.

We also found an all natural eucalyptus essential oil that is skin-safe and compatible with any diffuser.
A mindfulness and meditation book
Jolie Silva, a New York City-based psychologist, said that Jon Kabat-Zinn's national bestselling "Wherever You Go There You Are" can help readers find their true selves and ways to live a mindful life. Kabat-Zinn, who is known for his work as a scientist and meditation teacher, has spent a great deal of effort bringing meditation as therapy to the clinical mainstream. In his book, he lays out an easy-to-follow map of how you can practice meditation in your own life as a way to manage and reduce stress, even for those that are completely new to the concept.
A cushioned yoga mat
Nearly all of the experts we spoke to stressed the importance of exercise and body movement of some kind to manage burnout.

"When dealing with burnout, in addition to stress we're also often dealing with boundary issues," Bielak said. "Exercise is a great way to not only balance and release stress in the system, but it can also have the added benefit of creating a natural boundary to help us step away from work and other obligations in order to carve out space for ourselves."

Silva, suggested yoga in particular and said that if you can't afford an in-person yoga membership, YouTube has so many great options that suit the needs of all levels.

To get you going on your personal yoga practice, we suggest this highly rated mat that's extra thick and cushioned so you feel comfortable and supported throughout your yoga flow.
A guide on unlearning habits that don't serve you
"This book emphasizes the importance of putting ourselves first before we embark on the world," Rice said of Dr. Joe Dispenza's "Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself."

She said that there’s a written meditation inside the book, as well as an audio meditation, that gives readers the opportunity to let go of the old emotional conditions that keep us stuck and contribute to burnout.

"After you let them go, you can redesign how you want the new version of you to look like. It is incredibly empowering to feel in control of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors," she said.
New York Behavioral Health
A free goal setting and revision download
Freely available on the New York Behavioral Health website are these downloadable sheets that can help establish new goals and revise the old ones that are no longer serving you.

"This action oriented guide helps you to identify the negative impact of burnout and set goals to reduce it, or set goals on changing your job (or whatever else) is causing the burnout," Silva said.

Before You Go

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