Recovering from Physical & Mental Burnout

As women, we are naturally prone to burnout. We tend to push ourselves to the limit in all facets of our lives—taking care of kids and grandkids, working, managing our households, and juggling it all. According to the American Psychological Association, women are more likely than men to report high levels of stress.1 Turns out, we can burn ourselves out at the gym, too. Exercise provides natural stress relief, but when we take it too far, exercise can actually contribute to stress and burnout.

The key is to strike a good balance, to exercise the right amount and in the right way to provide stress relief. Here are some health tips:

How exercise provides stress relief

Physical activity provides natural stress relief by doing a few different things for your body. For one, engaging in a regular exercise routine improves sleep, boosts your mood, and increases self-esteem. It also helps reduce levels of tension and prevents anxiety. When you engage in a full body workout like the Curves Circuit or MyCurves On Demand, your brain releases natural pain killers called endorphins, which help reduce stress. Exercise also improves alertness, boosts energy, and increases cognitive function, so you can best tackle all that you have to think about and do in a day.2

But in order to harness all the stress relief exercise can provide, you must also realize you can have too much of a good thing.

Recognizing the signs of burnout

One of the most effective ways to prevent burnout is to recognize the signs, so you can stop it in its tracks. This is true of both emotional and physical burnout. If you are exercising fewer than five days a week, especially if they’re not in a row, chances are, you’re not physically burning out. Instead, the burnout may be a culmination of your full body workout coupled with everything else you’re juggling in your busy life. Emotional burnout is just as serious, but you’re not going to find a remedy for it by cutting back on your workout plan.3

Recognize the physical signs

If you’re pushing yourself too hard, you may experience the following:

  • A faster resting heart rate
  • Soreness every day, because your body isn’t getting a chance to heal
  • Feeling tired and de-motivated in the middle of your full body workout
  • Loss of sleep

Look out for mental signs, too

The biggest mental sign of burnout is irritability. When you’re overloaded and stressed out, your levels of the stress hormone cortisol spike, which makes everything from the way your spouse chews to the song playing at the grocery store seem annoying. Cortisol can rise from too much emotional or physical stress.3

How to avoid burnout

Take a break:

If you notice physical signs of burnout—the fast heart rate, exhaustion, irritability, lack of sleep we mentioned above—and you know you’ve been working out excessively it’s time to take a break. Think about how long it’s been that you’ve been pushing too hard and take a rest day for each week. If it’s been four weeks of extra hard full body workouts, for example, take four days of rest. This doesn’t mean doing nothing. Instead of an intense whole body workout, do some stretches for women, or exercises for stress, such as yoga or mindful meditation.3

Switch things up:

A common reason for physical burnout is doing the same exercise routine over and over. To keep your body fresh and engaged, change what you do—and the intensity—from day to day. Complete your Curves circuit or MyCurves On Demand workout at a higher-intensity one day with a cardio or boxing class, then take a body basics or balance class the next. Then go back to the circuit.

Protect yourself with the right workout:

It may seem like easy exercise for women, but really, it’s doing your body so much good. The Curves workout has been designed specially to be a safe and healthy workout plan for women. With the guidance of your Curves Coach, you can rest assured that every move you make at Curves will provide natural stress relief and prevent burnout.

With all the stressful things in our lives we cannot control, the last thing we want to do is create stress with our exercise routines! As you go through your busy life—and your workout plan—keep your eyes out for signs of physical and mental burnout, and be ready to stop it in its tracks, either by pulling back or shifting to a new form of exercise for stress relief.

The Curves women’s gym workout is convenient, combining strength training and cardio plus stretching – all in just 30 minutes – to strengthen your whole body. For more information about Curves and the full body workouts the Curves Circuit provides, visit ‘Why Curves’.


  1. American Psychological Association: Gender and Stress
  2. Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Physical Activity Reduces Stress
  3. Women’s Health: Are You on the Verge of Workout Burnout?
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