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5 Signs You Are Experiencing Burnout

Psychology Today describes burnout as a “state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.”

I describe it as hitting a wall. It’s that feeling when you’re no longer interested in what usually lights you up. You can’t seem to motivate yourself, no matter how hard you try. And people around you might even start noticing you’re acting out of character.

Truthfully, burnout is a cruddy thing. It is a place that is beyond exhaustion where even a few days of rest and relaxation can’t help. 

So how do you know if you are experiencing burnout? Burnout symptoms may look different for everyone, but there are a few things that are tell-tale signs of burnout. Be aware of them, and watch out for them. 

5 Signs You Are Experiencing Burnout

1. Forgetfulness and impaired concentration.

If you are starting to be forgetful and are struggling to concentrate, this could be telling you something. I sometimes call it fuzziness in my brain, I just feel like I can’t think straight or noodle through my brain.

This could range from mild to severe so be sure to pay attention to your memory daily. Do you usually describe yourself as a forgetful person? If not, this could be the first indicator that you are experiencing burnout.

2. You have physical symptoms.

Psychology Today has said that physical symptoms of burnout include:

  • chest pain
  • heart palpitations
  • shortness of breath
  • gastrointestinal pain, dizziness
  • fainting and/or headaches

If these symptoms have come up, this can be a sign as well. However, be mindful that these could also be signs and symptoms of other serious ailments and diseases as well. 

If something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not right. That’s your intuition talking to you. Speak to your doctor or a medical professional as soon as possible.

3. You’re more irritable.

We all get frustrated and annoyed, but if you find yourself being irritable more often than not and have found your fuse getting very short, you may be experiencing more than exhaustion and tiredness.

This irritability can extend from the inability to concentrate or forgetfulness, but it can also mean that you’re not getting enough sleep and you’re overworked.

4. You’re getting sick more often.

When our bodies are depleted, the immune system is weakened. This can lead to infections, colds and the flu. All of these things will make the burnout worse.

Taking care of ourselves physically and mentally is so important. Once you’re sick, you can only react to your sickness instead of try to prevent it. When we’re experiencing illness, we need rest. Get extra sleep, take your vitamins, and stay hydrated.

Physical illness can be a manifestation of chronic stress. So from here on out, you’ll need to do your best to mitigate that.

5. You’re experiencing isolation, detachment, and hopelessness.

When you’re tired, it can be easy to want to be alone and we can find ourselves uninterested in things we used to be interested in. Those feelings are increased when we are experiencing burnout. It can be challenging to feel like you need to expend energy you don’t have.

If you notice yourself start to feel isolated from friends and family, reach out. If you feel detached from your work, take a break. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, your burnout may be a sign of depression. In that case, speak to your doctor as soon as possible. It can be hard to differentiate on your own, so having an expert to speak to will make a huge difference.

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What To Do If You Are Experiencing Burnout

It’s important to note that these signs individually may not mean you’re experiencing burnout, but when you have multiple of these at the same time, that may be a clue that something is going on.

Many of us are susceptible to burnout, so it’s important to understand the signs and try to incorporate preventative measures. If you’re unsure if your experiencing burnout, check out the Burnout Quiz from Bossed Up.

If you are experiencing burnout, reduce your stress levels as much as possible. Start saying no more often and say yes to things that light you up. Spend time with people you like and indulge in rejuvenating activities. If you’re burnt out, you’re probably trying to manage more than you should. Look at your calendar and schedule in time to take care of you.

About the Author

Jessica Sharp

Jessica Sharp is passionate about empowering underserved and minority communities, diverse representation, and brain education. Jessica is the Founder and Chief Educator of Sharp Brain Consulting which works with public service agencies to provide education about the brain and its effect on organizational outcomes. Additionally, she is on the leadership team of Meals on Wheels in her town of Greenville, SC. She is completing a Masters of Public Affairs from the University of Missouri. Upon her completion, she will attend William James College to obtain a Doctorate of Psychology. Follow her on twitter at @sharpjes.