Burnout Symptoms: How To Recognize When You’re Struggling

Burnout is a state of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion caused by continued stress. Many people experience burnout in relation to their jobs, which then has negative effects on the rest of their lives. You can learn to recognize when you’re struggling by getting to know the most common burnout symptoms.

  1. Your passion becomes a chore Some say that if you turn your passion into a job, you’ll never work a day in your life. But sadly, when people do what they love for a living, they often fall out of love with it. If you have reached the point where work feels like a chore, you may be burnt out. You may lose your zest for your job or any hope about the future regarding it. When people have burnout, they also become cynical about the jobs they used to love.
  2. You feel like you’re not good at anything When you’re struggling with burnout, it can sometimes feel like you’re not good at anything. Even though you’re just struggling with one or a few areas, it can escalate in your mind. It’s easy to feel like you have no potential at all because you’re not performing at your best. The truth is you’re just tired and exhausted. But it’s not always easy to recognize this. Often, you will feel like you just suck—which isn’t true.
  3. Feeling fatigued but also like you can’t sleep A common burnout symptom is feeling super tired, but still not being able to fall asleep. Burnout makes you tired because it’s a build-up of working hard, pushing yourself, and not taking breaks over time. But it’s still not easy to sleep. Because there are a million things on your mind. Burnout can lead to insomnia because you’re likely to feel stressed about your burnout. It can also make you feel frustrated and helpless to not be able to perform at your best, which further triggers insomnia.
  4. Taking comfort in unhealthy sources A lot of people dealing with burnout tend to seek comfort from unhealthy places. Most of the time, these are drugs, alcohol, and food. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a healthy diet and treating yourself with your favorite foods. But when you use food to take away the pain you’re in, it can become an unhealthy obsession. These obsessions can take over your life if you let them get too far. At that stage, they often manifest into more serious health problems, so it’s important to recognize the problem when it first occurs.
  5. Changing from an optimist to a pessimist According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the most common burnout symptoms is becoming pessimistic. While some of us are just naturally ‘glass half empty’ type of people, the sign to look out for is a change in your disposition. If you used to be positive but are now cynical and jaded, especially about your job, it could be a red flag that you’re struggling with burnout. Feeling exhausted and sick of working tends to lead people to feel hopeless about the future. It’s also hard to be happy for other people when you feel like that, so you become a negative person that others might find difficult to engage with.

More symptoms of burnout to be aware of

  1. Finding it difficult to concentrate When you have burnout, it’s usually difficult to concentrate. Your mind and body have had enough. No matter how much you tell yourself to focus, your mind keeps wandering in protest. It has now reached the point where it can’t work for you anymore and needs a break.
  2. Avoiding friends and social activities Healthline reports that a common symptom of burnout is avoiding friends and social activities. Although you’re tired in relation to work, that can trickle into other areas of your life. It’s possible that someone with burnout is too tired, mentally and physically, to make the effort to do anything at all, including socializing. This is problematic because friendships and socializing are vital for overall health and wellbeing, even for introverts.
  3. Being irritable with people Having burnout can cause you to snap at people. When you’re mostly stressed, tired, frustrated, and cynical, you tend to lack patience for people. This can then lead to a negative effect on your social life and relationships with your friends and family, as well as with your romantic partner. Snapping at the wrong person can also put your job in jeopardy.
  4. Often getting sick Most people think of burnout as a mental thing. But the physical effects of this struggle are very real. It’s common for people with burnout to constantly get sick. They are run down and their immune systems are weakened, so they tend to pick up little bugs. If they ignore their feelings of burnout, their bodies might come down with physical ailments to try and communicate that it’s time to slow down and rest.
  5. Dreaming about a different life Most people escape into fantasy sometimes. But if you spend a lot of time dreaming about a different life, to the point where the fantasy is the only thing that makes you happy, it’s a sign that your real life needs some attention. Rather than relying on a fantasy, it’s time to address the issues that are making you unhappy—like burnout or your career—and find ways to improve your wellbeing.
Vanessa Locampo is an Aussie writer who’s equally obsessed with YA fiction and pasta. Her time is divided between writing all the things, reading all the things, listening to Queen, and bopping her cat on the nose. She has a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and has written for sites including Hotsprings.co and Discovering Montana, and currently works as an editor at Glam. You can keep up with her on Instagram @vanessaellewrites.