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Am I Burnt Out?

Trayton Vance
May 6, 2023
3 min read
Recognising signs of burnout crucial for early intervention and recovery. Seek support, re-evaluate priorities, practise mindfulness, and prioritize well-being for balance.
Who is this article for?
In this article
  • Understanding Burnout
  • Signs of Burnout
  • Causes of Burnout
  • Dealing with Burnout
  • Conclusion
  • May 6, 2023
    3 min read

    Am I Burnt Out?

    In today's fast-paced world, where the hustle culture often glorifies overworking, the phenomenon of burnout has become increasingly prevalent.

    The term "burnout" was first coined in the 1970s by the American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger. He used it to describe the consequences of severe stress and high ideals experienced by people working in "helping" professions.

    However, burnout extends far beyond these fields, affecting individuals across various sectors. But what exactly is burnout, how can you recognise it, and most importantly, what can you do if you're experiencing it?

    Understanding Burnout

    Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) categorises burnout as an "occupational phenomenon" and outlines three dimensions:

    1. Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion.
    2. Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job.
    3. Reduced professional efficacy.

    Signs of Burnout

    Understanding the signs of burnout is crucial for early recognition and intervention. These signs can be physical, emotional, and behavioural.

    Physical signs include:

    • Feeling tired and drained most of the time.
    • Lowered immunity, frequent illnesses.
    • Frequent headaches or muscle pain.
    • Change in appetite or sleep habits.

    Emotional signs include:

    • Sense of failure and self-doubt.
    • Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated.
    • Detachment, feeling alone in the world.
    • Loss of motivation.
    • Increasingly cynical and negative outlook.
    • Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.

    Behavioural signs include:

    • Withdrawing from responsibilities.
    • Isolating yourself from others.
    • Procrastinating, taking longer to get things done.
    • Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope.
    • Taking out your frustrations on others.
    • Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early.

    Causes of Burnout

    Burnout often stems from one's job. However, it's not solely a result of an individual's workload or working hours. Other factors contribute to burnout, including:

    • Lack of control. An inability to influence decisions that affect your job – such as your schedule, assignments, or workload – could lead to burnout.
    • Unclear job expectations. If you need clarification about the degree of authority you have or what your supervisor or others expect from you, you're likely to feel uncomfortable at work.
    • Dysfunctional workplace dynamics. Perhaps you work with an office bully, you feel undermined by colleagues, or your boss micromanages your work. These and other scenarios can contribute to job stress.
    • Extremes of activity. When a job is monotonous or chaotic, you need constant energy to remain focused, which can lead to fatigue and burnout.
    • Lack of social support. If you feel isolated at work and in your personal life, you might feel more stressed.
    • Work-life imbalance. If your work takes up so much of your time and effort that you don't have the energy to spend time with your family and friends, you might burn out quickly.

    Dealing with Burnout

    Recognizing burnout is the first step towards recovering from it. If you feel burnt out, these steps might help you regain your balance:

    1. Seek Support. Whether you reach out to co-workers, friends, loved ones, or therapists, support and collaboration to help you cope. Joining a support group can also be beneficial.
    2. Re-evaluate Priorities. Burnout can be an opportunity to rediscover what makes you happy and to change your habits accordingly. Adjust your priorities and set boundaries. Learn to say no.
    3. Exercise. Physical activity can help you to deal with stress and take your mind off work.
    4. Seek Professional Help. In some cases, therapy or counselling can help you to alleviate your burnout symptoms and develop strategies for coping with stress.
    5. Mindfulness Practices. Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can improve your state of mind and outlook on life.
    6. Rest and Recharge. Take a break from work. Go on vacation, use your sick days, ask for a temporary leave of absence – anything to remove yourself from the situation. Use the time away to recharge your batteries and pursue other recovery methods.


    Burnout is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign that you've been strong for too long. Recognising the signs of burnout is crucial for early intervention and recovery. It's important to address the issue head-on and implement strategies to overcome it.

    You can overcome burnout and regain your professional and personal balance by understanding and managing your stressors, seeking support, and caring for your physical and mental health. Remember, it's essential to prioritise your well-being; your health and happiness are indispensable.