12 Warning Signs of Burnout


Photo by Clinton Naik on Unsplash


Going through burnout is tough, intense and lonely. It’s also taking a lot of time to come back at your full performance.


Thinking at the time when I was there, I wondered: Were there any telltale signs of the storm to come?


Yes, there were.

But I ignored them. I thought that’s how normality looked like.


Whether it’s denial (“I’m fine, really”) or the hidden conviction that we’re indestructible (“It’s nothing serious, I’m just a bit tired/upset/etc.”), we decide to brush the warning away.


Until we can’t anymore. It’s not just in our faces, it’s crushing us to the ground.


Here are 12 hidden signs of burnout I wish I paid more attention to at the time.


1. You’re losing your creativity
You feel like your inspiration has dried up and you can’t squeeze any intelligent idea, no matter how hard you try. And of course, when you’re looking at other people’s work, they seem to be doing brilliantly!


2. You’re getting very distracted
You make more often little mistakes, from dropping and breaking things, to getting your car scratched or getting the date wrong for an important event. They show that your mind is overloaded and cannot handle things at its usual level.


3. Chronique fatigue
Instead of feeling refreshed, you wake up tired despite sleeping 8 hours a night. Then your sleeping pattern change, and you either have troubles falling or staying asleep for one or two nights a week. In the later stages, you cannot sleep even though you’re exhausted.


4. Inability to focus
You find it harder to concentrate and have no patience for longer tasks, like reading a book. You may start to forget where you put stuff. Your productivity goes out the window, and although you work long hours, your pile of things to do doesn’t grow any smaller.


5. Health problems
You may experience frequent dizziness, headaches, digestive problems, muscular pains and hypertension. Also, because the stress is affecting the immune system, you’re getting colds and flu very often. Your weight can also fluctuate (gain or lose) because you neglect your healthy eating habits.


6. Procrastination
Although your to-do list is stressing you out, you cannot find the motivation to deal with your tasks.


7. You take everything personally
You begin to be tearful and sensitive to conflict. Everything seems to be about you, each comment looks like an allusion to your mistakes.


8. You’ve lost your zest for life
Nothing excites or makes you happy anymore, not even things that used to bring you joy. Your work is boring and your time with your friends and family is bland and unsatisfactory.


9. You’re getting increasingly irritable
When pressure and frustration start to build up, you tend to become more irritable. The danger here is lashing out on people around you and hurting them.


10. You isolate yourself from people
This one may be hard to spot because when you have a lot of work, you might not feel in the mood for socializing. Instead of going out to lunch, you eat in front of your computer. Taking files at home to work on doesn’t make space for nights out. In later stages, you may disconnect yourself from others, refuse to return calls or emails.


11. You’re picking up a bad habit
It can be smoking, drinking or stuffing yourself with junk food. It may be something you quit years ago, but now feel compelled to try again as a source of comfort.


12. Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
First, you become pessimistic. As time goes by, you lose confidence, feel like nothing you do is good enough, everything seems to be failing or nothing matters.


Like the message hidden in the stones of the Rosslyn Chapel , there are always warning signs of burnout, hidden in our body and behaviour.

And once we pay attention to them, we can take action to avoid or reverse burnout.

Because it’s always smarter to prevent than to fight something.



Have you noticed two or more of these signs in your life? Not sure if you’re prone to burnout or not?

Take this 10 minutes quiz and find out. 


10 Minutes Quiz

Is stress a normal part of your life? Do you work insanely long hours?

This 10 minutes quiz can tell you if you’re heading towards burnout or not.

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