The impact of burnout on relationships…
With yourself and your partner

In this guest blog post, Dr Jo Braid, the Burnout Recovery Dr, will discuss the impact of burnout on relationships and what you can do about it. 

Do you ever notice yourself doing everything on autopilot, without much left emotionally in the tank at the end of the day, wondering if life was really meant to be this way and if it will ever change?

Burnout is made up of the trifecta of emotional exhaustion, cynicism and decreased personal productivity as described in 1975, however there are a range of symptoms and behaviour changes you might notice. 

With regards to relationships, being in burnout can affect how you relate to yourself and your partner.

I work with individuals who may have lost who they are and feel distant from the vibrant and successful person they used to be. They often have a strong inner critic and can be very judgemental towards themselves (and others) on what they are doing and how well they are doing it. Think perfectionist tendencies….This then impacts on self-care and getting things done. Other things or tasks can become a priority above the individual’s own needs, and they get lost in the busy-ness of life. Taking time for oneself can bring on feelings of guilt. Asking for help can come with feelings of shame. 

In your relationship with your partner, you might feel disconnected and notice yourself withdrawing from playful, enjoyable moments together. There might be a shift in whether you are initiating connection time. You might notice you are less decisive in your relationship and your boundaries aren’t what they once were. The responses you say to your partner may be more reactive than previously, finding yourself irritated by little things that wouldn’t have bothered you before. Or your communication may be very transactional and without the caring, nurturing and connecting style you may have used. 

So what can help if you notice you’re in burnout?

Firstly I would start with awareness. That can start with a moment of self-reflection, checking in to see how you really are. If you are with a partner, talk about it. Share what you are feeling and ask them if they have noticed anything.

Next, find ways to recharge. Burnout is an emotionally exhausted state. Our battery is close to flat and we need to re-energise it. There are a range of ways to do this.

I like to use the 4 pillars of self-care:

  • Where do I have a choice here?
  • What can I say no to?
  • Would I speak to a friend the same way that I speak to myself?
  • What is the next small step I need to take?
  • What are 3 things I can appreciate about myself?
  • How can I shift some stress out of my body?
  • Ways to discharge cortisol (a stress hormone) from our bodies include:
  • Any form of movement - walking, dancing, yoga, stretching
  • Long hugs - increase levels of oxytocin - a feel-good and bonding hormone.
  • Laughter and crying


  • Do you have a wind down routine?
  • Check in when you are going to sleep. Can that shift earlier by 30 minutes?
  • It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help. 
  • Start with someone you trust.
  • Seek professional help: your GP, psychologist, counsellor or a coach. 

Burnout is not a permanent state, when it is recognised and changes are made. A full recovery is 100% possible

Concerned about the impact burnout is having on your relationships?

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