10 Signs That You May Be Burnt Out

Important signs of an approaching burn-out.

Written by: Anushka Girdhar

In these testing times, our working-from-home efforts are worth an applause. And while the walls of our workplaces might have been erased, the emotional effects of working continue to exist.

The line between work and play can get blurry when we're confined to our couches. The latter tends to go down the hill as we try to replicate the quantity and quality of work as was when we weren't facing a pandemic.

Irrespective of the situation, workplaces are infamous for drowning people in stress, making them burnt-out, sometimes without realizing it.

What Is A Burn Out?

Burn-out isn’t a health condition but a factor that influences one’s health levels. The World Health Organization defines it as, “A syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

This term specifically refers to stress arising from work-related stress and not from other areas of life. You can read more about it here.

A burn-out should not be confused with the usual stress. Upon looking at one's work history, stress is short-lived and arises from a specific project. But, if one never feels ready to face one's work and achieving something feels impossible, it could be a burn-out.

Let's point at some signs to see what a day in your life can look like while facing a burn-out:

1. A rough start

The day begins on a rough note with you trying to drag yourself out of the bed. It is hard not to feel tired all the time, even after waking up from a long night's sleep.

2. The little things

You find it hard to summon the energy to perform the daily chores. Making your bed, doing the laundry, having breakfast or maintaining personal hygiene, everything feels so big.

3. A bumpy ride to work

It may be hard to get moving in the morning, especially on workdays. You often find yourself questioning your choice of the work too.

4. When did I last see my motivation?

It is easier to think and do everything else but work at the workplace, you no longer have that internal motivation. Burn-out and chronic stress are known to hinder your ability to concentrate on work, accompanied by increased forgetfulness.

5. The looming negativity

You feel detached from your work even when once you really enjoyed it. A burnout brings out feelings of cynicism about your job. It may also feel like what you’re doing doesn’t matter that much anymore. You feel more pessimistic than you used to, in all areas of life.

6. A falling graph

You sense a drop in your work performance. You can be made sure by comparing your performance now with that in previous years. A work performance drop is mostly linked to a burn-out when it becomes long-term, and not just particular to a project.

7. Should I be excited?

Either an upcoming fun meet with the colleagues or your family's favorite annual outing, you don't feel enthusiastic about it. It brings out feelings of sadness and dissatisfaction not just with your career, but also with your home and social life.

8. Warning: Battery about to die!

You feel depleted by the end of your work hours. There may also be a sense of freedom that lasts until the next morning. You feel exhausted not only mentally but emotionally and physically too. Some signs like muscle tension or delaying returning a friend’s call can be looked out for.

9. Meet junk food, my best friend

You feel the urge to consume more junk and sugary food. You may resort to excessive drinking, smoking, caffeine intake as these help you de-stress or temporarily ignore the stress. You may also find yourself overstepping the boundaries when it comes to moderation of portion size.

10. Stress-first, health-later

The needs of your body have become secondary and you are close to a plethora of health problems. Burn-out also makes you neglect personal care and is known to result in serious health problems such as digestive issues, heart diseases, depression and obesity over the long term.

How To Cure A Burn-Out?

According to Siobhán Murray, a psychotherapist, a lot of the signs and symptoms of pre-burnout are similar to depression. Although there are many treatments for depression, burnout is still best tackled by making lifestyle shifts.

As much as one would require a quick fix, it might take long term commitment in reversing the signs of burnout, just like acquiring them.

Practicing self-care, incorporating a healthy diet & exercise, and engaging in healthy sleep habits may help in reversing it. Seeking help in developing stress management strategies is also known to help along with trying to make changes in the work environment. If you are experiencing difficulty finding a way out burnout, seeking professional help is advised.

Resources and further readings:

1. How to avoid burnout amid a pandemic

2. Differentiate between a burnout and depression

3. Burnout Prevention and Treatment

4. The Burnout Solution: 12 weeks to a calmer you by Siobhan Murray

5. Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski

I hope this was helpful for you. Please take action if you can relate to more than 4 of these signs. Take care, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below! :)

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