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Signs of a Burnout at Work

work burn outThe longer it takes to recognize a burnout at work, the harder it’ll be to bounce back. These signs of work burn out will help you recognize what you need to do to take care of yourself.

Your emotions, relationships, cognitive abilities, and physical health will tell you what you need to know. Those four areas are sending you signals about how you’re handling stress at work.

There are many ways to cope with job burn out: take a mini-vacation or extended leave of absence, get assigned to a different department, or quit your job and find a different career. Not too many of us can simply retire and move to a tropical country – though that thought has crossed my mind more times than I care to admit!

Before you can cope with job burnout, you must first learn how to recognize the signs of exhaustion. If you notice these symptoms of work stress, you may need to make a significant change – which could mean changing your lifestyle.

Signs of a Burnout at Work

You are an emotional basket case

Do you overreact to the smallest things, such as losing your keys? Are you consumed by anger, rage, irritability, and frustration?

Here’s a great example from Marc Silver, author of Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) During Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond. “Once, I yelled at my kids because they didn’t help as I dragged groceries from the car on a rainy afternoon. My older daughter said, ‘Gee, Dad, if you’d just ask, we’d be happy to help.’”

While Silver wasn’t specifically describing job burnout, his example of “losing it” is a well-known sign of job burn out at work. People who are burning out are often easily irritated, frustrated, and even enraged.

You neglect your relationships, health, and recreational activities

When was the last time you visited your doctor, dentist, massage therapist, or chiropractor? What about your family and friends – are you spending as much time with them as you or they’d like? Do you exercise regularly or take time out for hobbies or weekends away from the routine? With job burnout comes neglect – self-neglect as well as the neglect of personal relationships.

If you don’t feel like you have the time or energy to take care of the “details” – which are important parts of life! – then you may be suffering from exhaustion or even depression. This is a sign of burnout at work.

You’re having trouble with your memory and cognitive abilities

These signs of exhaustion can be frightening because they affect how you think and relate to the world and people: inability to make decisions, lack of concentration or focus, loss of interest in activities, people, and life. Job burnout can lead to self-criticism, self-blame, self-loathing, and even depression.

If you think you just dislike going to work – you’re not suffering signs of work burnout or depression – read When You Hate Your Job – 8 Ways to Turn Your Career Around.

You’re struggling with emotional and physical health issues

A sure sign of a burnout at work is your health. Weight loss or gain, sleeplessness, chronic health problems, and constantly fighting colds or the flu could be signs of job burnout. Chronic stress can cause inflammation in the joints, compromise your immune system, and make you vulnerable to health ailments.

If you’re having health problems, your body may be unable to heal because it’s constantly physically exhausted, constantly fighting to survive.

Are you worried that your job may be at risk if you take time off to take care of yourself? Read How to Keep Your Job Secure.

What do you think – are you struggling with any of these signs of work burnout?

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2 thoughts on “Signs of a Burnout at Work”

  1. Dear Lee,

    I’ve never had a panic attack – I can only imagine how scary and painful it is! And, having them at work because of stress…that would be devastating. Talk about having a bad day at work.

    I’m glad you’re off work, and hope your healing after surgery is going well. Hopefully, when you go back to work, something will be different so you won’t have to suffer so much.

    Thanks for being here; my thoughts and prayers are with you.


  2. I have struggled with job issues for about 9 years now. I have panic attacks so severe it hurts me physically not just mentally. Imagine being delivered devastating news. Feel the dread and shock wash over your body. Well, that is what my panic attacks feel like. I will get them at just the thought of having to go back to that job. These attacks actually make my muscles ache. I have been out of work for awhile now because of surgery, so even though I have been in pain, it has been a relief from these attacks. I simply won’t allow myself at this point to dwell on it, but I know it is coming when I have to return.