How To Identify A Burn-Out And What To Do Next


‘There is virtue in work and there is a virtue in rest. Use both, overlook none.’ Alan Cohen

In the recent past we have adopted a culture that glorifies a life that is characterized by very late nights and extremely early mornings. While working hard and being productive are all good traits, they should not be at the expense of our overall well-being. You know what they say, you cannot pour from an empty cup. Eventually, your body begins to demand for rest in the most unpleasant of ways. 

What is a burnout and how different is it from stress?

A burnout is a response to prolonged stress and is characterized by emotional, physical and mental exhaustion, cynicism and sickness in some cases. Stress on the other hand is temporary and tied to a particular event.

What are signs of a burnout?

  1. Decreased Satisfaction

Nothing seems to make you happy not even the activities that you previously looked forward to. There is a general feeling of dissatisfaction with your work and personal life.

  1. Neglect of Personal Needs

There is little to no will to take care of yourself. One may notice that eating habits are poor and it is increasingly difficult to get sleep. Some people also tend to adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms such as excessive drinking and smoking while others self-medicate turning to sleeping pills to help with the insomnia.

  1. Irritability and Frustration

Burnout can easily turn one into a walking time bomb. Some become easily angered by the slightest of things and anything could tick you off. Negative emotions are at an all time high and one becomes cynical and skeptical about everything and anything.

This also manifests in inter-personal relationships at work and at home. The high irritability makes it very easy for arguments to come up. One bears negative energy and generally becomes an unpleasant person to be around. On the other hand, a burnout could lead some to become withdrawn and tuned out.

  1. Exhaustion

This can be physical, emotional and mental exhaustion. You sleep tired, wake up tired; your energy is completely spent all day everyday.

  1. Lack of Inspiration.

When suffering a burn out, most people have no motivation to get anything done. And the little they get done takes an unusual amount of time, energy and effort.

Burnout also affects your concentration levels making it extremely difficult for one to focus and get things done.

All these effects eventually affect your work performance.

  1. Health Problems.

Believe it or not,  burnouts are bad enough to cause health problems such as digestive difficulties, mental health problems, hypertension.

Here are some tips to help you combat burnout.

  1. Create a life outside of work.

A good number of us are solely defined by the work we do. We do not know who we are outside of work. A burnout can be looked at as a wake up call to start cultivating a rich non-work life. Explore different activities, revive a dead hobby, travel, meet new people, explore! Set aside time to read a book, watch movies, get some work-out in and take relaxation seriously.

  1. Maybe it’s time to get organized!

We spend a good amount of time worrying about all the work we need to get done instead of getting about the business of doing it. Putting together a to-do list and then prioritising tasks depending on the set timelines is a good place to start. 

  1. Take Time Off


Take time away from social media. While social media can be good it can also be a source of additional stress especially during this time. Another way to go about it would be to delegate time to checking your social media or even emails.

  1. Seek professional Help

Not very many of us are open to going for therapy. Most of the time we want to believe that we are more than capable of handling our issues and resolving our problems. Therapy is a good way of gaining a better understanding of ourselves. 

  1. Seek Support at Work. 

This may sound scary to some but it is important to sit with your manager and talk about what it is you are going through. This also gives you an opportunity to have an in depth look at your work, your role, how suitable the role is for you and ways of making your work more fulfilling.

Leave a Comment