how to spot burnout

How to Spot Burnout

Burnout is a state of complete physical and emotional exhaustion that we don’t speak about enough. People often dismiss burnout as laziness or a lack of motivation, but it’s a form of chronic stress that impacts your mental state. As well as your work performance and personal relationships. 

The World Health Organization recognises the negative impact burnout has on our bodies and minds. Although the WHO classifies it as a state of being, not a medical condition.

If you’re struggling, there are several ways to spot if you’re experiencing burnout. Noticing these signs early means you can start your recovery journey and reduce the impact.

How to Spot Burnout

Physical Exhaustion

Burnout drains your body of its energy, leaving you completely exhausted. When you have a job, household and family keeping you busy, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and tire yourself out. As well as extreme fatigue, your body may also experience stomach pains, muscle aches and headaches. All these physical symptoms impact your quality of life, so don’t ignore them. 

Long Term Impact

Refusing to address physical burnout allows it to continue wrecking your health. Potentially by the time your body can’t take anymore, you may have already lost years from your lifespan.

Poor Sleep Habits

While poor sleep habits can cause burnout, you may also develop insomnia after you experience burnout. This is because your mind is too stressed to wind down and let you rest. Losing sleep is dangerous because your body can’t regulate itself without regular, high-quality rest. 

Result of Poor Sleep

If you’re burning out and losing sleep as a result, you’ll have reduced concentration and reaction times. This increases your chance of getting into an accident or performing poorly at work. If your sleep schedule doesn’t improve, you’re likely experiencing burnout and should consult a medical professional.

Chronic Stress

Life is stressful, but chronic stress is a sign of burnout and incredibly damaging to your mental health. It makes you feel anxious all the time and you might overwork to quell your worries, which will only lead to physical exhaustion. 

Signs of Stress

Stress keeps your mind busy, so you won’t be able to mentally relax and indulge in necessary self-care. Too much stress can also affect your body, raising your blood pressure and increasing your risk of having a stroke or developing heart disease. Don’t bottle up your stress; focus on unpacking it with a therapist.

Feelings of Sadness and Anger

Emotional burnout slowly takes over your feelings and changes how you act and react, affecting your state of mind. Temporary feelings of sadness and anger are natural in response to upsetting or frustrating events. However, if they don’t go away, this may be a sign of burnout. 

Impact on Friends and Family

The more stressed and overwhelmed you get, the more likely you are to snap at friends and co-workers. Your personal and professional relationships will suffer and you’ll end up wallowing in feelings of extreme sadness. Sometimes, emotional burnout can even lead to depression, so it’s essential to address these feelings and seek help.


Experiencing burnout is an isolating experience because there are no obvious ways of coping with it.. People who experience burnout often attempt to carry on with their normal lives. However, they typically feel too drained to make the effort properly, so they withdraw. 

Impact of Loneliness

The resulting loneliness is devastating and actually makes affected people less likely to reach out for help with burnout. Instead, they socially isolate themselves, craving meaningful connections but having no energy to form them. Identifying burnout as the cause of extreme loneliness is the first step towards overcoming it for a healthier, less lonely life.

Unhealthy Eating

A healthy diet is the key to good physical health and an improved mood. Unhealthy eating, on the other hand, has an association with burnout. This is because people often over consume unhealthy foods to comfort themselves. Eating a lot of fast food also indicates a lack of desire or energy to buy and cook healthy meals. 

Balanced Diet

If your balanced diet is slipping into unhealthy eating habits, question if burnout could be the cause, question if burnout could be the cause. Low-nutrient foods and high-caffeine drinks can also exacerbate stress. Consulting physical and mental health specialists is a great way to address unhealthy eating and break the burnout cycle.

Poor Work Performance

When you’re burning out, you’re less productive, engaged and motivated. That’s why sudden poor performance at work is an easy way to spot if you’re experiencing burnout. Even a comfortable working environment can lead to stressed employees. Employees who struggle to meet company demands may burn out especially with pressure from managers. 

Noticing Stress at Work

Sadly, not enough people correctly spot burnout. They might lose their job or resign from their jobs rather than seek help. Overworking in response to stress makes burnout worse, so it becomes necessary to prioritise your health over your job.

Damaged Relationships

Burned-out people have no energy to look after themselves. So it’s also common for them to damage important relationships. Some relationships can cause burnout, especially if you’re constantly arguing and lack intimacy. However, plenty of romantic, familial and social relationships break down when one person experiences burnout. 

Emotionally Draining

Experiencing emotional drain makes people more withdrawn and irritable, so interacting with them is difficult. If you constantly refuse help with your burnout symptoms, you’ll push your loved ones away and lose your lease on life. Confronting your emotions is the only way to overcome burnout and keep your relationships on track.

What to Do When You Spot Burnout

Spotting burnout in yourself or someone else is the first step of the healing journey. Don’t ignore or downplay the symptoms of burnout. Because your physical, mental and emotional health will continue to suffer as a result. 

Nowadays, with everyone living such busy lives, it’s becoming more common to experience burnout. Luckily, it’s also becoming more common for people to seek professional health. Pushing past the stigma that was once surrounding therapy, embracing support and mental health.

If you want to take control of your burnout and start making positive changes to your life, get in touch with a therapist. To choose the right one for you, view our Find a Therapist page.

“The World Health Organization recognises the negative impact burnout has on our bodies and minds. Although the WHO classifies it as a state of being, not a medical condition.”