The Signs of Burnout (and How To Recover)

Burnout is far more common than you would assume, but the problem is that tons of people brush it off as part of their routine and never identify the symptoms, the cause, and how to recover from it.

Burnout is a term used to describe a feeling of intense stress, most commonly seen in a work environment. There are many causes and symptoms that may change from person to person, but the results are often the same: lack of productivity and a general feeling of unhappiness.

Contrary to what people think though, you can suffer burnout even if you’re doing something you love. The work itself isn’t the only cause for burnout, though it is the most common.

Likewise, most people know that if you’re feeling tired and overwhelmed, a vacation usually would help. But that’s not very practical if you’re in a position where you can’t take a break, whether because your employer won’t allow it now or because you currently can’t allow yourself.

With that in mind, it’s important to identify when you’re burned out, and address it as soon as possible. Periods of intense burnout can lead to anxiety and depression, which will greatly harm your mental and physical health.

The major signs of burnout

To identify burnout, you have to pay attention to your body. You will see many physical and mental signs that you’re suffering, and unfortunately, we tend to ignore these signs. Remember: admitting it is not a sign of weakness.

Fatigue. You may feel physically weak and undisposed, feeling tired from performing basic movements or activities.

Illness. Many people may experience a weakened immune system due to burnout, causing them to experience awful periods of illness. You can easily get knocked out by a common cold, for example.

Irritability. If you’re quick to anger and bitterness, that may not be just because of your mood. Burnout will make you much less receptive because of the intense stress you’re experiencing.

Lack of motivation. Much of burnout is mental and reflects greatly on your motivation to get up, work, or even perform basic chores.

Low productivity. Because of the aforementioned issues, you may find yourself struggling to keep up with your old productivity.

Anxiety and depression. Combine all of this for long periods of time, and you may develop anxiety and depression – both very serious psychological issues that often need the help of a professional to fully recover from.

It can be difficult to maintain productivity at work if you’re under these conditions. Keep reading to learn more about this issue, and check out these tips to stay productive in the office!

The causes and results of burnout

Many exterior factors can lead to burnout, even some not directly related to your work routine. These are the most common that most people can relate to:

Toxic relationships or work environment. Your work relationships play a major role in this because most people spend more time with their work colleagues than their partners. Having to deal with a toxic work dynamic for months can lead to burnout, but relationships outside of work can also take their toll.

Unhealthy personal/work balance. Basically working too much and living too little. As much as work is essential, working 24/7 is never a good idea. Naturally, sometimes the circumstances are not in your favor, but you have to know your limits and stand your ground.

No time for leisure. This is very similar to the point above, but it’s more focused on what you consider leisure. Maybe it’s practicing a sport, spending time with your family, or just watching a movie on Saturday – many times, work doesn’t allow time for even those small moments.

Overcommitting. Some people think that the only way to achieve something is to commit full force – no break, no stopping, until it’s done. This is far from the truth. Slow and steady wins the race, as they say. You won’t get anywhere faster by sacrificing your mental health in the process.

Poor nutrition. Eating poorly has a devastating effect on your physical and mental health. It’s common for people to rely on fast food or delivery when they’re short on time or just looking for a break, but indulging in it too much can worsen the problem over time because it creates a dependency.

Juggling multiple projects at once can easily overwhelm you. Learn how to manage multiple projects and keep yourself in the game!

How to deal with burnout

Some of these tips may sound obvious, but the problem with someone so overwhelmed with work is that they often don’t realize that they need a break, let alone that they are allowed to have one. 

Obviously, I can’t say “just go on vacation” because… well, you don’t say! We all wish we could do that, but it’s not practical for most of us. It may not be up to you or you simply can’t at the moment. But there are other smaller steps you can take to recover from a burnout period.

Give yourself a break – no matter how small. It’s important to take a break and fully detach from your work if you want to relax. Of course, you should enjoy vacation or at least a full weekend of peace if you can, but sometimes that’s not possible. In that case, give yourself small breaks. For example, one of my favorite things to do when I need to unwind is to eat a snack while watching a video, and for those few minutes, I don’t do anything else or allow work to cross my mind. 

Your achievements don’t determine your self-worth. This is a misconception many of us are led to believe just because of the way the world works. Achieving great things feels awesome, but it has absolutely nothing to do with your self-worth, and you should think no less of yourself for your achievement.

Accept help. In all honesty, this is one of the hardest steps here. Accepting help may feel like a defeat, but it’s quite the opposite. By accepting the help of friends, family, and a health professional, you’re on your way to regaining control of your life.

Meditate. Meditating is certainly not for everyone, but if you want something you can do only a few minutes a day to wind up and practice mindfulness, it’s very effective. Plus, it can help you concentrate more on the important things and let go of anxiety related to work.

Respect your needs. Everyone has limits and you’re not a superhero. No one is. We’re all human and no living person can withstand all the hardship in the world without ever breaking. Listen to your body and mind, and respect their needs – no one knows how you’re feeling better than you do.

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