The Lasting Impacts of Burnout: Recognizing the Long-Term Consequences and the Urgent Need for Action

May 24, 2023

Last week, I delivered a keynote to about 200 HR Professionals at the Missouri Employment Conference, speaking publicly for the first time about my journey to burnout. Just re-telling the story reminds me of how much I endured that ultimately led to my burnout experience.

No alt text provided for this image

When I asked the room how many of them had experienced burnout in the last two to three years, probably 75% of the room stood up! During the session, I took the audience on a journey to experience how to create embodied self-awareness, increase capacity, and access their multiple intelligences. We spent two days at the conference attending, networking, and sharing information about our programs.

The day after my return…

I was once again in full-blown burnout. My carefully stabilized nervous system was totally shot. When I woke up, I could feel my whole body was swollen, my head was pounding, my joints ached, and I was beyond exhausted.

No alt text provided for this image

The Jessica of the past would have rallied, pushed herself to get up, get ready, and tackle the planned activities of the day.

The Jessica of the present recognized her body needed to recover before she could tackle anything else.

The dark side of a burnout experience is the extraordinarily long recovery and the need to better pay attention to and care for our bodies. We’ve burned up all our reserves (that we accumulated for years) and now it is going to take us significant time to build them back up again!

Instead of pushing forward with the planned activities, I took time to sleep longer, rest my body, do my cold plunge, breathe in nature, do artwork, nourish my body, and play with my kids. As a result, by the following day, I was feeling probably 75% recovered and was able to proceed with my planned activities that day. I decided to document this part of the journey with video because the difficult moments are as important a part of our lives to share as the shining ones.

No alt text provided for this image

I decided not to only share the beautiful photos and videos of the keynote, but to also share the very real and challenging experience I had afterwards. I am opening myself up in this way to demonstrate that burnout recovery takes a long time; the effects can last many years. The work necessary to both recover and prevent it is essential and takes intentional commitment and time to truly create lasting results.

I want you to learn two things from my experience:

  1. If you are recovering from burnout… you aren’t alone. Don’t be ashamed to admit or share your experience, get help, and support, and learn how to truly recover (rather than fake it!). Burnout recovery requires more than just sleep – you NEED support.
  2. If you haven’t experienced burnout…take this as a HUGE warning of the many challenges you might experience if you allow yourself to get there. Start preparing now to prevent burnout.

Why EVERYONE is at risk for burnout?

In today's fast-paced and demanding world, it's no secret that stress has become a constant and more intense part of our lives. As professionals, we often find ourselves juggling multiple responsibilities, pushing ourselves to meet deadlines, and constantly striving for success. However, amidst this pursuit, we often overlook the toll that chronic stress and burnout can have on our overall well-being and long-term performance. In this article, I will explore the lasting impacts of burnout and emphasize the crucial need to be aware of the long-term consequences of ignoring or dismissing the tremendous amounts of stress we experience daily.

The Vicious Cycle of Burnout:

Burnout, a state of chronic physical and emotional exhaustion, can manifest in various ways, such as feeling depleted, cynical, or detached from work. It not only affects our productivity and job satisfaction, but also has profound effects on our mental and physical health. Unfortunately, the consequences of burnout often extend far beyond the immediate symptoms.

Mental Health Consequences: Persistent burnout can lead to serious mental health issues, including anxiety disorders, depression, and decreased resilience. The prolonged exposure to stress hormones can disrupt the delicate balance of neurotransmitters in our brains, affecting our mood, cognitive abilities, and overall emotional well-being. Ignoring the signs of burnout can pave the way for a downward spiral, negatively impacting our personal and professional lives.

My mental health journey has been a long and winding road since my burnout experience. I share much of my self-discovery journey in my book Fiercely Cherished Beings where I talk about how after burnout, you question your entire identity and sense of self. I had numerous limiting beliefs and fears I had to work through and overcome on my road to recovery. Thankfully, I had significant support with coaches, masterminds, and therapy.

Physical Health Complications: The toll of chronic stress on our physical health should not be underestimated. Studies have shown that burnout can contribute to cardiovascular diseases, weakened immune systems, and increased vulnerability to illnesses. Furthermore, sleep disturbances, chronic fatigue, and gastrointestinal problems often accompany burnout, leading to a vicious cycle of declining health and diminished performance.

I experienced so many of these consequences in my life. My body’s multiple autoimmune conditions cause me near daily inflammation and pain. The state of my body has impacted my ability to lose weight and my hormone levels. I am constantly working with various doctors and health professionals trying to bring my body back into a higher functioning state. I also require substantially more sleep than I used to need (at least 8 to 10 hours per day) in order to be functional. I have to pay close attention to my stress levels all day long and take breaks when it starts getting too high. Working nights and weekends is only an option if I plan for recovery days or to sleep longer the next morning. What I used to be able to power through and push on, is simply no longer an option.

Professional and Personal Relationships: Burnout not only affects us individually, but also has far-reaching consequences for our professional and personal relationships. The exhaustion and lack of motivation associated with burnout can diminish our engagement and effectiveness at work. Moreover, strained relationships with colleagues, decreased empathy, and a diminished sense of purpose can further erode job satisfaction and hinder career growth. Outside of work, burnout can strain relationships with family and friends, causing a ripple effect on our support systems and overall well-being.

The loss of myself and my relationships came as a huge blow and somewhat of a shock to me. I never anticipated losing such important relationships and friendships in my life as I did when I left my previous role. The loneliness only added to the need for greater self-discovery. And the painful re-building of a professional network is still in progress. I wish I had built more of an external network outside my organization long before I left my role.

For those that haven’t experienced it, I recognize it is probably hard to imagine going from high performing to the state I am describing. Please heed my warning and take action now to prevent these consequences!

The Need for Awareness and Action:

Recognizing and acknowledging the long-term consequences of burnout is the first step toward creating a healthier work environment and a sustainable professional life. As individuals and organizations, we must prioritize the actions that will proactively address the causes of burnout. Here are a few strategies to consider:

1. Cultivate Self-Awareness: Regularly assess your stress levels and be attentive to the warning signs of burnout. Take breaks, practice self-care, and seek support when needed. I regularly monitor my Heart Rate Variability and level of stress. I use the NeuroFit app to take action on balancing my nervous system and monitoring my current state.

2. Foster a Supportive Culture: Organizations should create an environment that values and promotes a human life balance approach to performance. By incorporating effective practices related to performance, communication, stress/nervous system management, and other neuroperformance practices, organizations and prevent burnout. Implementing these types of programs, flexible work arrangements, and promoting a healthy work culture can go a long way in preventing burnout.

3. Invest in Skill Development: Equip individuals with the tools and resources they need to manage stress effectively. This can include training in resilience, time management, mindfulness, and emotional intelligence. Although individual training can be helpful, I have found integrating these concepts into everyday performance practices goes a long way to truly making an impact. By creating greater embodied self-awareness through standard workplace practices, or developing greater emotional intelligence when having important conversations, we can make a much bigger impact on skill growth and development.

4. Promote Human Life Harmony & Balance: Encourage a holistic approach to life to ensure all the aspects of the human life are integrated. People are encouraged to better understand themselves and their life in order to incorporate practices that create optimal performance and balance for the individual. We only get one life; we must figure out how to live that life in a way that will create the experiences we want to be having.


The consequences of burnout are significant and far-reaching, impacting not only our immediate well-being but also our long-term health, relationships, and professional success. By raising awareness of these lasting impacts, we can begin to prioritize well-being, create supportive work environments, and take proactive measures to prevent and address burnout. Let us strive for a future where optimized, sustainable performance is cherished, leading to a more fulfilling and healthier professional journey for everyone.

Interested in Learning More?

To learn about NeuroPerformance and a neuroscience-based approach to living a better life sign up here!

Check out our Neuroscience of Self-Awareness free giveaways including an assessment, strategies handout, webinar, and more!  

Get our Self-Awareness Free Give-aways!

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team!
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.

Fiercely Cherished Beings Sign Up 

Sign up here to find out when the new book Fiercely Cherished Beings will be available!