3 Signs You Are Burnt Out – And How to Cope

By Sorcha Dunne | @sorchateresadunne

For many people, working all day every day is a way of life. However, over the last few years, in particular, positive depictions of “hustle culture” have flooded social media and quickly normalised working harder, faster, and longer. This is causing a lot more of us to experience burnout – but burnout is not a new phenomenon. In fact, the concept has been debated over the last several decades. Although, it was not until 2019 that the World Health Organisation addressed burnout as “a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Here are three signs that you could be suffering from burnout, along with some tips on how to cope. 

 1)   You’re constantly exhausted

One of the most common signs of burnout is feelings of exhaustion. This type of exhaustion isn’t something you can sleep off over the weekend; it is ever-present and follows you from one day to the next—this kind of tiredness results from running off adrenaline for far longer than our bodies are designed for. After too many days of working relentlessly and continuously have caught up, you will understandably reach a wall and realise that you just can’t engage at the level you have been pushing yourself to for so long. As a result, you begin to lack focus and productivity, and almost all at once, your work performance suddenly drops. And if things can’t get worse, the high levels of stress hormones can even interfere with your sleep cycle and potentially lead to insomnia. 

 2) You’re a rollercoaster of emotions, but not the good kind

The lack of energy can no doubt leave you feeling detached from your body, almost like you’re going through life without a sense of meaning or purpose, which can affect not only your work-life but also your personal life. One example of this could be not feeling the sam excitement or enjoyment for hobbies or relationships you once did, or overall, having decreased satisfaction with life. If this sounds a bit too like you, take note of your thoughts and how you are speaking to others. Have you recently become more hostile or cynical? Are you abnormally emotional or sensitive to things that never used to double-cross your mind? Or are you experiencing feelings of isolation, almost like the world is entirely on your shoulders? If so, burnout could be behind it. 

3)    You’re experiencing unusual and uncomfortable physical symptoms

When increased stress hormones are present within the body, unusual physical symptoms can appear. In the short term, higher amounts of stress hormones can be beneficial for survival; however, they can be detrimental to the body in the long term. For example, one purpose of increased amounts of adrenaline being released is so that our blood vessels can dilate to allow blood move more quickly through the body, enabling us to move quicker in times of danger. However, when adrenaline is increased over a long period, tension headaches and even migraines can occur. Other physical symptoms caused by high levels of stress hormones within the body, which could indicate burnout include changes in appetite, gastrointestinal issues, muscle tension and pain, generalised aches, and increased susceptibility to colds and flu. 

 So, what next? 

If you’re experiencing any of the above signs, the first step would be to visit your doctor to determine if they are indicative of burnout or another health condition. If it is burnout, it is crucial to identify the root of the problem before addressing the symptoms. The next step is to brainstorm what you can better do to relieve the stress. Finally, after making the necessary changes, become aware of your limits, and set boundaries with yourself and your colleagues to best prevent surpassing them again.