How Do You Know If You Are Truly Experiencing ‘Burnout’?

How Do You Know If You Are Truly Experiencing 'Burnout'?

In this fast-paced world, it’s easy to bury oneself in daily activities that there’s barely enough time for a real break. Work, family, and other responsibilities can drain you. With all that fills your mind, you struggle to provide yourself space. Thoughts like “I need more money” and “I have to take care of the kids”, push you beyond your limits until you remember that you’re not invincible. Burnout happens when prolonged, excessive stress overwhelms you. Left ignored, you’ll see everything and everyone in your life suffer because of it. Find out if you or your loved one is experiencing burnout:

What is burnout?

The word “burn out” had been coined by American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in the 1970s. He used it to describe what the consequences were in ‘helping professions’ with extremely heavy stress. Currently, the term is no longer just used for assisting jobs and for self-sacrifice. It can affect everyone from celebrities and career executives, to overworked employees and household workers. There’s no clear diagnosis of burnout. Experts aren’t always in the same position when it comes to the condition.

The Signs


A person who’s burning out may unconsciously show it or not. Here are a few common signs to watch out for:

You’re Exhausted

Feeling tired sometimes is normal. If you always feel tired, that’s a reason for concern. Having zero energy is not normal at all. Physical, mental, or emotional exhaustion makes you too weak to do anything.

You Lack Motivation

One of the most obvious signs of burnout is no longer being as passionate as you used to be. Aside from putting in less effort at work, you even lock yourself up in your room instead of taking a walk outside on weekends.

You’re Not Taking Care of Yourself

Unhealthy habits such as overeating, developing an addiction, and self-medication become a part of your lifestyle. You neglect tending to your needs.

You Can’t Concentrate

Your decision-making and problem-solving abilities are affected by chronic stress. You can’t focus. Remembering things is also a lot harder for you now.

You’re Not Doing Well at Work

Your performance as an employee has declined. Though you may not notice it much, your boss and colleagues definitely do. It’s hard to be professional and meet demands when you’re exhausted.

You’re Always Sick

Constant stress takes a toll on your body. For instance, health problems such as flu, depression, heart disease, and malnutrition, occur and stay long. Always getting sick is one of the physical symptoms of burnout.

You’ve Become Cynical

Those who experience burnout out see the bad in everything. From simple issues to bigger ones, pessimism colors their view. Physical, emotional, and psychological stress can give you anxiety and depression.

You’re Cranky

Pet peeves anger you more than it should, and the small stuff annoy you even if they shouldn’t. Burnout greatly affects your mental health. You can lose control of yourself and your daily life.

You Don’t Get Enough Sleep

Negative thoughts and emotions keep you up. You worry about problems your recent behavior might have caused at work or at home. Exhaustion from work-related matters, family concerns, and other factors make you feel extreme fatigue.

According to research, burnout appears to manifest in different ways between genders. Higher levels of depersonalization are observed in men, and higher levels of stress in women.


“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…Including you.”

– Anne Lamott

Is it exhaustion or burnout?

Stress may have serious physical and mental consequences when ignored. If you’re exhausted, that means you’re experiencing short-term but significant stress. This can lead to long-term fatigue which eventually becomes a full-blown burnout.

When burnout isn’t caused by work

Burnout isn’t always work related. It can come from family, relationships, personal life matters, These types of burnout are called parental burnout the relationship burnout and the caregiver burnout or both. People from all areas of life can experience burnout.

What To Do


Overcoming burnout involves recognizing your condition and taking control of the situation. Once you’re aware, you have to make an action plan. Decide whether you need professional help, support, or personal change. Moreover, doing both asking for help and managing your own transformation program can make you recover faster. Simple steps like the following will start you off on the right track:

  • Rest – take a breather and take it seriously. Escape from your busy 24/7 for a while. Let your worn out body and soul heal.
  • Continue Your Hobbies – do what you love. Activities you enjoy lift your spirits up. Nourish your creative side. Experiencing something different or creating fun projects can also help you a lot.
  • ‘Log Off’ – cut the time you spend on your phone. Leave social media if it will be best for you. Get in touch with others and with the natural world.
  • Eat and Sleep Well – maintain a healthy diet. Consume more organic food and drink water as much as you need. Aim to always get enough sleep. Bad sleep habits are detrimental to your health.
  • Exercise – moving your body is not only good for your physical health, it also does wonders to your psychological health. Exercise works against stress and burnout. Aim to exercise daily for 30 minutes or more, or divide it into 10-minute tasks. Relieve stress by focusing on how you feel as you move.
  • Clear Your Head – release those heavy thoughts. Meditate, write them down, or talk them out. Allow only good thoughts in. Always look after your mental health.
  • Listen to Your Stress Radar – know when you can’t take anymore. There are several ways you can handle stress and bring your life back in a positive light. If your symptoms are showing, stop what you’re doing immediately.
  • Turn to other people – reach out to someone nearest to you such as your partner, family, and close friends. Social contact is nature’s antidote to stress and speaking face to face with a good listener can calm your nerves and alleviate stress. Make new friends. Connect with causes or social groups that mean something to you.
  • Re-evaluate your priorities – always prioritize self care. If there’s no meaning in what you do, something is wrong. This can be a chance to rediscover what makes you happy. To take it slow, stop thinking, and make time to relax and recover.
  • Reframe the way you look at work– to combat burnout at work, start by focusing on things you like about it. Have friends at work. Take some time off when you need it. Still, a bad job can cause you physical, emotional, and psychological stress that can lead to serious health conditions. Don’t hesitate to put your life and self first before your job.

The many negative effects of burnout are varied but all are dangerous. No matter how insignificant at first, all symptoms can lead to life-threatening illnesses. Stressful situations can make small symptoms worse. Constant physical exhaustion and neglected mental exhaustion can both cause death.


Difference Between Depression and Burnout

In depression, some symptoms typical of burnout is also present. There are people who suffer from both burnout and depression. A burnout diagnosis can’t be made too early. Burnout increases the risk of depression but doesn’t always cause it. What’s sure is that depression may really make things worse. On the whole, physical and psychological symptoms should be given attention to regardless of which condition.

How do I help a loved one who is burned out?

It’s painful seeing a loved one struggle with burnout. Show your love and support. Help them cope. Ask your loved one about their feelings, job, friends, mental health, physical health, personal life, etc. Remind them that they are free to do what’s best for them. If you sense that they need professional help, act on it right away. It’s important to know both obvious and subtle signs of burnout. Let other family members know if possible so they can help too. When they get better, you still need to support them. Help them stay positive and keep watch over their stress levels.


Indeed, suffering from burnout is a serious matter. Just like any other condition, it needs proper attention. Signs should never be overlooked. You must act before it causes real damage. Nonetheless, don’t beat yourself up for experiencing it. Everyone else can burn out, one way or another. The beauty of being human is that we learn lessons by going through pain, and we taste pleasure better because of it.

Can you relate? Share your thoughts below. We’d love to hear them!

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Written by Hannah Grace

A B.S. Psychology graduate who fights both real and imaginary shadows every day with music and words.

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