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spotting the signs of burnout

Spotting the Signs of Burnout 

‘Physical burnout’, ‘work-related or excessive stress’, ‘workplace burnout’… These are all terms we’ve heard many times before. And since we’re halfway through the year, hearing people talk about feeling tired and overworked is common. The physical signs of burnout are also more obvious during this time. Luckily, spotting the signs of burnout before you actually get completely burned out is possible. Prevention is much better than treatment! You just have to know what to look out for… 

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The most common signs of burnout are: 

  • Physical exhaustion
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches and stomachaches
  • Hypertension 
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Muscle tension
  • Lack of creativity
  • Irritability
  • Loss of purpose
  • Emotional numbness
  • Detachment

According to the Mayo Clinic, if you answer yes to any of the following 10 questions, you might be experiencing workplace burnout: 

  1. Are you cynical or critical at work lately?
  2. Do you have to drag yourself to work every morning and then find it difficult to start the day? 
  3. Have you become irritable or impatient with the people around you (i.e. co-workers, customers or clients)?
  4. Are you struggling to find the energy to be consistently productive?
  5. Are you finding it difficult or hard to concentrate?
  6. Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
  7. Are you feeling disillusioned about your job?
  8. Do you use food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel anything at all?
  9. Have your sleeping habits changed?
  10. Do you suffer from unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems, or other physical complaints?

The Mayo Clinic recommends talking to your doctor, or mental health provider if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms. 

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The good news is, it is possible to spot the early warning signs of burnout before it becomes too serious. Plus, it is reversible. If you’re experiencing any of the signs or answered yes to any of the questions above, it is time to take a step back and make changes to your work life. 

According to Dr. Jessi Gold, a psychiatrist at Washington University in St. Louis, “it’s really easy to blow off your own symptoms, especially in our culture, where we’re taught to work hard.” 

Beating Burnout

Once you become aware of the signs of burnout and what causes them, there are a few big steps you can take, according to the Harvard Business Review

  1. Make YOU a priority

Prioritising self-care is the single most important step you can take to recharge your batteries. Focus on good sleeping habits, good nutrition, exercising regularly, spending time with people who add value to your life, and your wellbeing (i.e. meditating, doing yoga, journaling, and being in nature). Positive time away from work will re-energise your mind, body and soul. 

  1. Adjust your Mindset 

Looking for the root cause of burnout will come from reshifting your mindset. After prioritising self-care, do you feel that your situation has really been fixed, or are there other changes that you need to make? For example, if you’re still feeling exhausted, then you might have to reprioritise your task list. If you’re feeling ineffective in the workplace, what assistance can you get? Deep diving into your thoughts will help you figure out which changes or adjustments you need to make. 

  1. Seek out interactions 

“The best antidote to burnout… is seeking out rich interpersonal interactions and continual personal and professional development.” Who are the mentors and life coaches you trust? Ask them to help you identify opportunities for growth and learning, as well as activate personal relationships. Your experience might be the experience of a co-worker or fellow entrepreneur. Offering mutual support will benefit everyone. 

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