Avoiding Burnout in Recovery during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Avoiding Burnout in Recovery during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically impacted our daily way of life. Many individuals in addiction recovery are having are tough time finding healthy ways of avoiding burnout in recovery.

A survey of 5,000 participants shows that 75% or more people feel that their routines, structure, and habits are negatively impacted by the COVID-19 quarantine.[1] Making those struggling with addiction much more open to feeling the adverse effects.

Avoiding burnout in recovery during this pandemic is possible if you know which signs to watch out for and the steps you need to keep you on the right track.

Signs of Recovery Burnout

What is recovery burnout? Recovery burnout is the mental, emotional, or physical exhaustion that allows us to lose the meaning of what our recovery means to us. Typically it’s a result of not addressing high-level stress.

Just like we can get burnout from working too much or from running errands while trying to watch the kids, burnout can happen during addiction recovery. These normal stressors can drain us of our ability to cope with the situation. The disruption of our daily lives caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has the ability to negatively impact your recovery.

5 Stages of Burnout in Recovery

To see the signs of burnout, we need to understand the five stages that lead there. Like we do when we are grieving, we move through 5 phases that ultimately lead to burnout in recovery.[1]

1. “Honeymoon” Phase

When we start a new task or get into our recovery, we’re excited about it. We are motivated to make a change and look at everything in a positive way. This is because we are reacting to the stresses of the new task at hand.

It is believed that if we develop excellent coping skills during the “honeymoon” phase that it can continue indefinitely.

Symptoms associated with this phase include:

  • Higher sustained energy and productivity levels
  • Personal satisfaction and accepting responsibility
  • Optimism and enthusiasm
  • Commitment to recovery
  • Creativity

2. Stress Onset

When the second stage of burnout begins, we may notice stress negatively affecting our physical, mental, or emotional health. We start to notice that some days are more difficult than others, and our optimism begins to fall.

Symptoms associated with this phase include:

  • Dissatisfaction with your recovery
  • High blood pressure and anxiety
  • Physical symptoms such as a change in appetite or diet, fatigue, heart palpitations, headaches, or unusual heart rhythms.
  • Productivity problems such as inability to focus, lower productivity, short-term memory issues, and avoiding making decisions
  • Sleep disturbances such as lack of sleep, poor quality sleep, or grinding your teeth at night.
  • Ignoring personal needs such as hygiene or social interactions

3. Chronic Stress

When stress starts to take hold of you and begins to negatively impact your health, the third stage of recovery burnout can occur. In this phase, we quickly go from motivated to experiencing stress frequently.

Symptoms associated with this phase include:

  • Fatigue and tiredness in the mornings
  • Self-isolation and social withdrawal
  • Having issues at work such as being late, missing deadlines, and procrastination
  • Denying problems at home, work, or school
  • Physical illness
  • Emotional issues such as resentfulness, anger, aggressive behavior, or a cynical attitude.
  • Feeling panicked, out of control, or threatened
  • Increased alcohol/drug or caffeine consumption
  • Decreased sexual desire

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Avoiding Burnout in Recovery

4. Burnout

When we get to stage the 4th stage of recovery, burnout is where symptoms become critical. Running on empty and continuing as normal is not often possible at this stage, and seeking help is crucial.

Symptoms associated with this phase include:

  • You’re no longer thinking about your recovery
  • Chronic pain such as headaches
  • Stomach or bowel problems
  • Feeling hopeless and empty inside
  • Obsessing over problems and having a pessimistic outlook on work and life
  • Total neglect of personal needs
  • Increase of “escapist” activities, social isolation, and desire to “drop out” of society.
  • Poor self-esteem and self-doubt.
  • Self-doubt
  • Behavioral changes

5. Habitual Burnout

When your symptoms reach the final phase of recovery burnout, it means that it is much easier to allow your symptoms to control you and stop your recovery in its tracks. These symptoms become so embedded in our daily life that it can lead to significant emotional, mental, or physical issues.

Symptoms associated with this phase include:

  • No desire to continue recovery
  • Increased drug or alcohol use
  • Depression
  • Chronic mental, physical and emotional fatigue
  • Burnout syndrome

Avoiding Burnout in Recovery

Now that we know the signs and stages of burnout in recovery, we can start to address the underlying issues. At Clear Life Recovery, we understand how difficult it can be to go through recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our specialized team works one-to-one with clients to guide them toward everlasting recovery. We help you to keep a good, solid routine and develop coping skills that will aid in your addiction recovery.

We take a holistic approach and provide many services in our treatment programs, including:

If you’re beginning to feel the symptoms of burnout in recovery, give us a call today. We can help get you back to a healthy, happy life!



[1] https://thriveglobal.com/stories/leadership-team-burnout-compassion-health-coronavirus-crisis/

[2] https://www.thisiscalmer.com/blog/5-stages-of-burnout