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Burnout Symptoms: 10 Signs That Say You Need A Break


Thorin Tran 05 February, 2024 6 min read

In today's high-pressure world, burnout has become a common problem, often creeping up silently and impacting our health, work, and quality of life.

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. Recognizing the signs of burnout is the first step in taking action to restore balance and well-being. Here are 10 warning burnout symptoms to keep an eye on.

Table of Content

What is Burnout?

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.

Typically associated with the workplace, burnout can affect anyone who experiences chronic stress, especially when the efforts they put in do not yield the desired results, leading to feelings of disillusionment and inefficiency.

When left unchecked, burnout can lead to clinical depression and depletion of energy.

When an individual is burnout, they experience:

  • Chronic Fatigue: Feeling tired and drained most of the time.
  • Cynicism and Detachment: Loss of interest or enthusiasm in work activities, feeling detached from the job and colleagues.
  • Feelings of Ineffectiveness and Lack of Accomplishment: A sense of failure and self-doubt, feeling that nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated.

Burnout can have severe impacts on physical and mental health. It can cause headaches, stomach issues, depression, and anxiety; reduce productivity, and sap your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. The unhappiness and detachment that burnout causes can threaten your job, relationships, and overall health.

10 Burnout Symptoms to Monitor

Burnout is a gradual process and these symptoms can creep up subtly. It's important to acknowledge and address these signs early to prevent further deterioration of your mental and physical health. If you recognize several of these symptoms in yourself, it may be time to seek help and make changes to your work and lifestyle.

burnout symptoms
Feelings of increased job dissatisfaction and anger are two of the most common symptoms of burnout in the workplace.
  1. Chronic Exhaustion: Feeling constantly tired, drained, and lacking energy, and not feeling refreshed even after rest or sleep. This reflects a state of physical and emotional depletion. It goes beyond the typical tiredness or fatigue you might feel after a busy day or a poor night's sleep.
  2. Decreased Performance and Productivity: Struggling with concentration and creativity at work, experiencing a decline in work performance, and finding it hard to complete tasks. This state not only affects your ability to perform effectively at work but can also impact your overall sense of competence and achievement.
  3. Increased Cynicism: Feeling disillusioned about your job, a loss of enjoyment in work, and a tendency to detach and isolate yourself from coworkers. This can manifest as a sense of disillusionment or frustration with your job.
  4. Insomnia: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, leading to restless nights and feeling unrefreshed in the morning.
  5. Physical Symptoms: Experiencing physical complaints such as headaches, stomachaches, intestinal issues, and frequent illness due to a weakened immune system.
  6. Loss of Appetite or Overeating: Significant changes in eating habits, either losing your appetite or resorting to overeating for comfort.
  7. Irritability and Short Temper: Increased irritability, especially with colleagues or family members, over minor issues that wouldn't typically bother you. If you find yourself easily triggered at work, you may be experiencing burnout.
  8. Feelings of Incompetence: A sense of futility and lack of achievement, doubting the value of your work and your ability to contribute.
  9. Escapist Behavior: Engaging in unhealthy behaviors, such as excessive use of alcohol or drugs, as a way to escape or "numb" your feelings related to work.
  10. Emotional Exhaustion: Feeling drained emotionally, experiencing mood swings or emotional instability, and feeling unable to cope with daily stressors.

How to Effectively Handle Burnout?

Dealing with burnout is tricky. It requires a multi-faceted approach that focuses on both immediate relief and long-term strategies to prevent its recurrence. Here are steps you can take to manage and recover from burnout:

  • #1 Acknowledge the Problem: Recognize and accept that you are experiencing burnout. This is the first and most crucial step towards recovery.
  • #2 Seek Immediate Support: Talk to someone you trust about what you're experiencing. This could be a friend, family member, or a professional like a therapist or counselor. Sharing your feelings can be a huge relief and can help you gain perspective.
  • #3 Evaluate Your Options: Reflect on what aspects of your work or lifestyle are contributing to burnout. Consider what changes can be made to reduce stress, such as delegating tasks, reducing workload, or even exploring new job opportunities.
  • #4 Take Time Off: If possible, take a break from work. Use this time to relax, recharge, and disconnect from work-related activities. A brief getaway is also crucial to reevaluate your lifestyle.
  • #5 Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. This might mean setting specific work hours, not checking work emails during personal time, or learning to say no to additional responsibilities.
  • #6 Practice Self-Care: Engage in activities that promote well-being. This includes eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, ensuring you get enough sleep, and engaging in activities that you enjoy and that relax you.
  • #7 Use Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: When stressed, incorporate practices such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga into your routine. These can help reduce stress and improve your mental state.
  • #8 Reevaluate Your Goals and Priorities: Sometimes, burnout is a sign that your current life path is not fulfilling. Take time to think about your goals, what you find meaningful, and how you can align your work and life with these values.
  • #9 Learn Stress Management Techniques: Develop effective stress management strategies that work for you. This might include time management, setting realistic expectations for yourself, or learning relaxation techniques. If burnout is severely impacting your life and mental health, seek professional help. Therapists or counselors can provide valuable guidance and strategies to cope with burnout.
  • #10 Gradual Return to Work: When returning to work, try to ease back into your routine gradually. Discuss with your employer any adjustments that might help, such as a phased return to work or flexible working arrangements.
Finding peace and passion for what you do can greatly improve job satisfaction, which reduces the chance of feeling burnout at work.

Remember, you cannot recover from burnout immediately, even if you strictly follow the steps above. Burnout is a sign of severe stress, and managing it requires consistent efforts. It's pivotal that you identify your stressors and learn how to always keep stress levels in check.

Wrapping It Up!

If you recognize these burnout symptoms in yourself, it's important to take them seriously. Burnout doesn’t just resolve on its own and requires active intervention. This could mean taking a break, seeking professional help, making lifestyle changes, or reevaluating your goals and priorities.

Remember, acknowledging burnout is not a sign of weakness but the first step towards regaining your health, happiness, and productivity. Prioritize self-care and seek support. After all, taking time to recharge isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity for your overall well-being. Leading a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a work-life balance are the two keys to handling burnout in the long run.