Light Up But Don’t Burn Out: Recognising the early stages of burnout

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It’s so easy to lose track of your health in a face paced environment when you have other deadlines and stresses on your mind. It’s great to get involved in your job, and work hard to do well, but job burnout is an increasingly common problem. It isn’t something to take lightly. True burnout can leave you physically and mentally extremely unwell. The American Psychological Association’s David Ballard gives his advice to help you recognise early signs of burnout, and our next blog will tell you some really good ways of preventing and curing it.


1)     Exhaustion and lack of motivation– feeling tired all the time is a classic symptom of burnout. This may be emotional, mental or even physical.

2)     Lack of motivation – Being unable to summon any enthusiasm for anything anymore is another really common sign of burnout. Losing your drive at work negatively impacts your performance, and makes you feel as though you’re dragging yourself out of bed and into the office.

3)     Frustration, pessimism and disillusionment – feeling as though nothing matters, and being disillusioned with the world can be signs of burnout. Everyone has negative emotions, but if these change and become more frequent or worse then you need to intervene.

4)     Trouble concentrating – Stress is an evolutionary aid to help us deal with a threatening situation. It focuses the mind on solving a particular short term problem, such as escaping from predators. If stress happens over a long period of time it can become chronic, so your brain tries to focus on a problem it can’t solve. This makes it hard to pay attention to other things, because your brain is still trying to solve the problem that has made you stressed. This can make you forgetful and make it hard to settle to a task.

5)     Conflict in relationships – This may be with family, friends or co-workers. They may complain that you are withdrawn, argumentative or tuned out.

6)     Not taking care of yourself – Lots of people with burnout invent coping strategies that are often detrimental such as smoking, stopping exercise, excessive drinking, eating junk food or not eating enough, and not sleeping. Self-medicating with caffeine (to combat the exhaustion), alcohol (to de-stress) or sleeping pills is common.

7)     Being unable to switch off – dwelling on work issues stops you from being able to recover from your day. Time where you don’t think about work is essential, and chronic stress prevents you from being able to do this.

8)     Health Issues – Over long periods of time, chronic stress increases the chance of health problems. It alters the immune system, causes digestive problems such as IBS, makes your more prone to obesity, depression and heart disease.


Obviously at various points in our lives we are going to feel pressure at work. This is normal, but if you notice a change in the way you’re feeling and acting then there are things you can do. Feeling drained, bored and unhealthy shouldn’t be the norm so don’t give up! Our next blog will go through ten ways to help you get back on track and performing well again.