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How To Work Hard Without Burning Out

Hard work is actually an essential element of a satisfied life. As humans, we crave the feeling of working hard and seek it out when we don’t find it naturally. But hard work is exactly what it says on the tin: it is hard, and it is work. So that means even though hard work is something we want and need, it comes at a price. That price is exhaustion and eventually burnout, two things that everyone eventually acquires, but nobody wants. So are there steps we can take to avoid the fallout of exhaustion? When do we rest and when do we keep working? Is it possible to work hard without burning out? 

“We are such spendthrifts with our lives, the trick of living is to slip on and off the planet with the least fuss you can muster. I’m not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer, who puts back into the soil what he takes out.” – Paul Newman

How Can I Work Longer Without Burning Out? 

One of the great tragedies of being a working human is that our bodies are not resources we can endlessly draw from, nor are they tools we can wield without thought. In order to be an effective craftsman, you must know not only how to use your tools, but also how to maintain them. If you use a tool improperly, it can cause undue wear on even the most expensive and effective tools. You can explore how your body needs to be treated by asking yourself just a few questions. 

  • Which tasks fill up my cup and bring me joy to complete?
    • Could I take on more of these tasks and fewer of the ones that bring me stress? 
    • Am I working in a job/field where completing these tasks is appreciated? 
    • What about these tasks makes me feel good about them?
  • What tasks could I complete every day with little stress? 
    • What makes you feel comfortable completing these tasks every day?
    • How could I make these tasks even less stressful? 
    • Is there anything that would make these tasks more interesting, entertaining or fun?
  • What tasks are difficult for me to complete and drain my energy when I do? 
    • What makes these tasks so draining or difficult? 
    • What could make these tasks tolerable or better?
    • How am I giving myself an opportunity to rest when these tasks come up? 

How Can I Rest Effectively? 

The art of rest is hard to master. In order to rest, you must stop working. In order to rest effectively, you must recognize when you need to stop working. What signals to you that your work day is over? Does the job end when you clock out, or is there more to it than that? Especially when we’re working for ourselves or owning our own business, it becomes difficult knowing where to draw the line. Different people are capable of handling different amounts of work, so answering that question will require some self-reflection. 

  • When do I have time to rest? 
  • Do I have enough time to rest? 
  • Where could I make more time to rest? 
  • What am I doing for fun in the immediate future?  
  • What is coming up that I will need rest for either before or after?

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw

Where Can I Learn How To Work Sustainably?

To work sustainably, it takes a conscious effort on your part. Very few (if any) individuals intuitively understand how to work without toil, burnout, or worse. Even though the discipline of working sustainably can be challenging, there are steps you can take to learn it! 

    • Befriending Your Body. The connection between our minds and bodies is a powerful thing. By tapping into that connection, you can read the signals of your mind and body to recognize those critical moments when it’s time to rest.  
    • Mindful Resting. Rest is more than just making time for sleep. It means leaving space in your life to let your mind rest without dissociating or leaving your own body behind. 
  • Mastering Self-Care. If your body were a blade, it would often need to be sharpened. Self-care is how we sharpen the blade of our body. By incorporating self-care into our daily acts of living, we can improve our quality of life and work not only harder, but also more effectively. 


Who Can Teach Me How To Work Without Burning Out?

The managing between work and rest can be a delicate balancing act. Many people who are excellent workers cannot handle that balance alone. When a wise person wants to learn something, they seek out guidance from an expert. At Integrative Counsel, we have many such experts who can help you in your journey towards doing more of the work you want, and less of the work you don’t. 

Our counselors can help you learn the tools you need to take care of your mental wellness so you can handle life when it gets challenging. Click here to schedule a consultation with our intake specialist and get matched with a right-fit therapist!


Sunny Ebsary is a writer and singer-songwriter from Tampa, FL. When he’s not sing-songwriting or just regular writing, he’s probably drinking water with a lot of ice, having a staring contest with his cat, or giving people great ideas. You can listen to Sunny’s music here.

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