Emily Nagoski - “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle”

A more accurate title for the book would have been “hashtag burnout: a feminist perspective”. As a man, I realize I’m not in the target audience for this book. I’ll keep this short and will not put a numeric rating.

Workable advice in the book

Increase the rest you’re getting:

  1. Sleep
  2. Food
  3. Friends
  4. Movement
  5. Self-compassion
  6. Gratitude

You can’t spell “resist” without “rest”.


The book focuses on patriarchy, societal abuse of people with natural giver/caretaker tendencies, as well as popular culture beauty standards, and judgmental inner voices. It has a strong feminist vibe. While those things are strongly related to female burnout, the title concept itself is not very thoroughly covered.

In my previous reading, I gathered that burnout happens when deadlines, demands, working hours, other stressors outweigh rewards, recognition, relaxation. It’s an accumulation of hundreds of tiny disappointments. The causes of burnout the authors cover sound incomplete and dry without some focus on what burnout actually is, how it ties to other mental health issues.

It seems like a woman reader will have to do some additional reading on the topic to learn of the gender neutral causes of burnout, and more importantly, to learn about recognizing it in self and others, which this book talks relatively little about.

The advice this book presents to combat burnout can be summarized in one sentence. Increase the rest you’re getting through sleep, food, friends, movement, and self-compassion. It talks of completing “stress cycles” through those means. This sounds reasonable and intriguing, I will be trying this out.

On the flip side, the book’s style was the one thing I didn’t like much. It reads like a tweetstorm, to the point of spelling out hashtags and meme catch phrases. It’s filled with anecdotes, hard to say which ones are factual and which are just stories to prove a point. My biggest gripe was with how it personifies behaviors and processes. This reads like a young adult book or magazine.

Summing up, there is a blog post worth of insight in the book but its title is misleading, its length is drawn out, and the style is definitely not my cup of tea.