Know the Physical Signs of Burnout and What You Can Do About It

Know the Physical Signs of Burnout and What You Can Do About It

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Feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and tired?

You may be suffering from burnout.

The Mayo Clinic defines burnout as, “a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.” If you feel exhausted and lack motivation, and if the thought of Mondays fills you with a tremendous amount of dread, you could be experiencing burnout –or at least, may be heading in that direction.

Burnout or, more specifically –career burnout can be brought on by a number of different things. This could include being stuck in a job that’s a poor fit for you, having a workplace environment that’s overwhelming, or being unsupported at work. Lack of control and an inability to influence decisions that affect you can also lead to burnout.

Knowing how to spot the first signs of burnout will allow you to take action sooner –rather than later, to reverse it. Here are some classic, physical signs to watch out for.

Exhaustion and Fatigue

Perpetual exhaustion is an all-too common sign of burnout –especially if you find that you’re going to bed and waking up still feeling just as tired –mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Health Issues

Stress usually accompanies burnout, and can take a toll on your health. Health issues to look out for include chest pains, shortness of breath, dizziness, or constant headaches. Of course, if you’re experiencing any of these things –it’s important to see a doctor to rule out any other, more serious health conditions.

Poor Job Performance

If you find that your job performance drops significantly, or if you need to rely on those around you to pick up the slack then you may be facing a burnout.

Lack of Care

Burnouts can cause you to spend less time looking after yourself, and your health. Many people resort to unhealthy lifestyles when experiencing fatigue; and a lack of sleep, or giving up exercise are all signs that you’re not feeing your best.


The inability to sleep can often be caused by burnout –especially if you find yourself lying awake at night thinking about work.


Forgetting things easily is another sign of burnout. Because we’re more likely to be preoccupied with things that are happening at work, we’ll be less able to focus on our days off and therefore will have difficulty remembering things.

If you are experiencing signs of a burnout, it’s time to make some changes. Here are a few things that you can do to help get yourself out of the rut, and back on track once again.

Reevaluate Your Job or Career

If you’re unsatisfied at work, it’s important to ask yourself whether this job –or career is in line with your values, and helping you to reach your goals. A job that’s mismatched with your long-term goals can result in burnout. If your work doesn’t leave you feeling satisfied, and fulfilled, it may be time for a change.

Try to Reduce Stress

Sometimes though, burnout isn’t caused by a job that’s a poor fit; often, it’s caused by stress. Try to keep track of the things that are causing you stress, or record them in a stress journal. Once you’ve discovered the cause of your stress you can look for ways to resolve it. This could include measures such as reducing your workload, working from home part-time, or outsourcing some of your work –if possible.

Choose a Healthy Lifestyle

It’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle –this includes eating well, drinking plenty of water, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Healthy choices can improve your energy levels and help you to handle stress better, making you less likely to feel burned out.

Strive for a Work-Life Balance

Overwork –and failing to maintain a good work-life balance are also common culprits. Devoting all of your time to work and neglecting to connect with your family and friends can increase your chances of breakdown. Try to take time away from work, and avoid working late nights, early mornings, and weekends: a sure recipe for burnout.

Take Breaks

It may sound overly simplistic, but it’s important to get out, and spend time away from your desk. Taking breaks can give you a breather, and help you to return to work refreshed, and ready to work again.

It’s important to realize that burnout can occur –in any career –even in a job that you enjoy. But being aware of the causes –and signs of burnout can help you to take steps to reverse it –at the first signs of trouble.

Have you experienced career burnout? How did you handle it?

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