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The Most Common Signs of Burnout

The Most Common Signs of Burnout


Life is hard. We run from pillar to post, day after day, striving to make ends meet. And sometimes we run out of fuel.

This energetic depletion is known as burnout, and as our lives become increasingly gnarled by strains and stresses — both physical and mental — more and more people are falling victim to its clutches. Ultimately, burnout is a form of prolonged exhaustion, and can be rooted in work, domestic responsibilities, caretaking, or even demanding relationships.


There are three early signs of burnout: exhaustion, decreased performance, and extreme apathy.

Exhaustion is the most common symptom. You may feel tired all the time, even when you’ve had enough sleep. Exhaustion can also lead to stomach and bowel discomfort.

Poor performance is another sign you’re on the verge of burnout. Working at peak performance is practically impossible when we’re physically and emotionally drained because burnout hampers concentration and creativity.

The other major burnout symptom is apathy. Have you ever felt like you just don’t care about anything or anyone anymore? That state of internal alienation could be linked to burnout.

Symptoms may be mild at first. But the longer you neglect them, the worse the situation can grow.


We’ve talked about what burnout is and how it can affect you. Now let’s take a look at how you can conquer it.


If work is the root of your burnout, talk with your supervisor or human resources. These days, employers are more aware of mental health hardships and are willing to work with employees who need a little time to get back on track. A twelve-week sabbatical may not be possible, but time off for therapy, a change in focus, or a temporary lessening of responsibilities are all often workable solutions.


Today’s media representations may try to convince us that it’s possible to do it all, with one hand tied behind our backs and no assistance. But they’re wrong. Everybody needs help from time to time, especially when navigating burnout.

If you find yourself in a precarious situation, don’t be ashamed to call in the troops. We may feel weird asking, but friends and family are almost always willing to lend a helping hand. After all, it feels good to be needed, and that’s what a support system is all about.


Sometimes, burnout provides the motivation needed to pick a new direction and start forging a path. Maybe it’s time to launch that business you’ve been dreaming about forever. Perhaps your job is slowly eating away at you from the inside, and moving on is the answer. And though it may hurt to admit, your relationship may have run its course. Ask yourself if staying in it is causing you emotional burnout.

Whatever the case may be, redirecting your life can be the miracle that allows you to thrive, not just survive.


Burnout can sneak up on you, and we may not always realize its roots immediately. Working with a therapist, life coach, or both could be the exact thing you need to clear your fears and traumas while defining your trajectory and goals.

Understand, though, that therapists and life coaches are not the same. The former helps with mental health matters. Work with a therapist if you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, angst, or a trauma-related hardship. On the opposite side of the same coin are life coaches. They help clients identify and achieve goals.

When choosing professionals with whom to work, consider working with therapists and life coaches with burnout experience.


Nowadays, we’re inundated with media messages that subliminally tell us that perfection is the only acceptable outcome. Recognizing these toxic demands can be challenging. But even worse is our tendency to engage in negative self-talk when we don’t meet impossible standards.

One way to combat this phenomenon is to be kind to yourself. When you catch that little voice scolding you, yell back. Tell it that you are a worthy, talented person who is sick and tired of its nagging. Reclaiming self-esteem goes a long way in banishing burnout.

Being clobbered by burnout can be difficult. But once recognized, you can steer yourself back on the right track. All it takes is a little bit of self-love, support, and commitment.

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