Common Signs of Burnout and How to Prevent It

Are You Experiencing Burnout?

If you’re feeling exhausted and have little motivation to get through the day, you might be experiencing some burnout. Burnout is different from stress in that stress happens to all of us. Burnout, on the other hand, comes when chronic stress creates physical and emotional exhaustion.

It helps to look at the way you feel about your experiences at work, in life, and in relationships so that you can get a feel for whether you are at risk for burnout.

The good news is that you can recover from burnout and I’d like to show you how. Today, you are going to learn the signs and symptoms of burnout, how it progresses and how to recover from it.

By increasing your awareness of burnout, you can increase your ability to prevent it. Burnout does not happen overnight. Burnout happens when we miss the warning signs along the way. One day we stop functioning like we used to, even if we work harder and try harder to maintain our productivity.

Check-in with yourself and reflect on where the level of your function is currently. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate yourself? 1 – extremely poor; 5 – average; and 10 –  exceptional.

Notice how your body feels and how positive or negative your thinking is and what emotions come up for you. Simply having awareness around this is the first step in recognizing the warning signs of burnout.


Mental & Emotional

To help you understand what is happening within you when you’re experiencing burnout, I want to share some common experiences that you might have with burnout.

Difficulty concentrating on what you’re doing no matter what the task is. It could be constantly procrastinating because you can’t muster up the energy. It could be making careless mistakes.

Even if you aware that you are experiencing burnout, you may not know the common emotions that go with it.

Feeling resentful, annoyed, overwhelmed, powerless. It could be noticing it’s difficult to feel happy and laugh or feeling indifferent about things you should care about.

We live in very stressful times and you are not the only one who’s experiencing these things. Know that being aware of the mental and emotional signs of burnout can help you take steps towards recovering from it.

 Physical & Social

Whether you’re aware that you are experiencing burnout or not quite there yet, it can be useful to recognize some important signs.

Insomnia can be one of the early warning signs and as a result, we might feel tired all the time. Other physical signs include persistent headaches, intestinal issues, and even clumsiness. Physical signs can warn us of many things therefore, it’s important to use all of your resources, such as going to get a check-up with your doctor.

Burnout can lead to feeling socially isolated and alone as well. You can feel detached from your loved ones, especially if you miss important events due to work or health, and sometimes when you are with other people you’re not truly present. Remember, that because life can be stressful you’re not the only one experiencing these things.

Stop or Slow Down

When you start something new, you can be so excited that you give it our all. You are so enthusiastic about what you’re working on that you don’t mind the stress that comes with it. In an effort to maintain a high level of productivity you don’t notice the toll it takes on our mind, body, emotions, and relationships, to maintain this high level of productivity. This is how it becomes possible to be close to running on empty and not even realizing it until it’s too late.

One of the best ways to recover from burnout is to stop or at least slow down and get the mental, physical and emotional rest that you need.

We aren’t machines, we are human beings and we all need that. You may have already thought about stopping or slowing down and talked yourself out of it. You can always come up with reasons why you can’t slow down or stop.

Recognize that you are taking an important step right now to resolve burnout by taking time to learn about the signs and symptoms so that you can recover. When you help yourself shift away from a burnout state and into a calm state, you’re naturally in a more empowered and energized state of being.

Creating Balance

It’s important to understand that work-life balance doesn’t mean that equal time is spent working and playing. It means that the quality of our play, rest, and time for our self, balances out the demands of work.

What is something that you love to do so much that you don’t even notice time passing as you do it? These are activities that we engage in wholeheartedly that time flies and can help balance out our lives. It puts us into a physical, mental, and emotional state that is the opposite of burnout.

As the demands of life shift, the quality of recovery must shift as well. The closer you are to burnout the more you need to engage in these types of activities that support you in slowing down and moving into a state of deep relaxation.

How Control Plays a Role in Preventing Burnout 

You can easily become overwhelmed by the responsibilities that you have taken on or those that have been put upon you. Regardless of whether or not you have chosen the situation, some things are simply within your control and some things are outside of your control. The problem is that the more overwhelmed you feel the less control you think you have.

Being able to distinguish between what you can control and what you can’t control becomes really vital to recovering from burnout.

Let go of what is outside of your control. There is no point in spending the time and energy or the focus on trying to control something that you can’t. It can be hard to accept that you simply can’t control something, but you can begin working towards this and take your energy back.

If You Have Signs of Burnout, Get Professional Support 

Having support can make a BIG difference in your life. Support can come in many different ways. Some people are best at providing emotional support and are willing to listen and be compassionate. Others are not as good of listeners but might be better at providing practical support, such as loaning you money, giving you a ride, or helping you to fix something. While others can be a source of informational support. These are people you can count on to have specific knowledge on specific topics.

Who are the people in your life that you can count on?

Knowing who you can go to for the type of support that you need is a sensible tool for preventing burnout. Visualize your ideal source of support. This will help you recognize opportunities to receive support.

Even if you are someone who doesn’t like to ask for help or get help, it will help you recover from burnout by realizing and visualizing the kind of support that you do need.


Self-care is an important thing that can quickly disappear from your life and contribute to burnout. You can get so busy that you don’t exercise and start eating those sweet and salty comfort foods instead of healthier foods, you lose sleep and the list can go on and on.

Think back to a time when you were really taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. What were the things that you did? Perhaps you were more physically active or maybe you liked to read more and spend quality time with friends and family. How would you feel if you could bring back some of those activities?

Unfortunately, when you are feeling highly stressed or in a state of burnout, those are the types of activities we often don’t want to do even though they would help us the most. What would it feel like to do at least one thing a day for yourself?

Make a list of the ways you have engaged in self-care throughout your life and add any additional ways you can take care of yourself now. What are the things that you really need right now and simply make a plan to do at least one of these things a day?

Anyone can be susceptible to burnout. It’s not an indication of weakness or something about you. We all have our limitations. It’s when we disregard these limitations that we set ourselves up for experiencing burnout.

Now you know how burnout can happen and by putting together what you have learned so far you also know how to prevent it. Engaging in self-care, getting the support you need, letting go of what you can’t control. All these things can help you stay energized and productive. Know that these things can take time so be patient with yourself through the process.

Take a moment to think about the excitement that you had when you first took on your new job, new role, project, responsibility, or even a new romantic relationship. Remember what your hopes and your expectations were and what motivated you to give it your all?

In addition to connecting to this purpose and feeling every day, remember that a good plan for preventing burnout includes at least one self-care activity, knowing who you can go to for support when you need it, and just that practice of letting go of the things we can’t control.