Many jobs these days come with a certain degree of pressure attached, which can lead to even the best of us to become overwhelmed with stress starting to take over. We can all tolerate certain amounts of stress in our working lives and for most people this is a harmless fact of life, there are however signs when this stress starts to turn into something more serious affecting both mental and physical aspects of a persons life. It is when these symptoms becomes more serious it is more commonly known as burnout.

Knowing how to recognise the signs of burnout is vital for overall mental and physical well-being, so as an employee you can remain productive and stimulated. Many people may confuse stress and burnout as the same thing, but they are not. Below we have highlighted the differences between the two.

Burnout Vs Stress


  • You feel out of control and helpless in day to day situations
  • You lack motivation and hope
  • You feel detached from day to day situations and have an overriding sense of depression
  • Long term if not checked burnout can lead to emotional damage.


  • You don't know when to 'switch off'
  • You react to the slightest thing and are irritable
  • You feel anxious with a urge to constantly be busy
  • If not checked long term stress can leave to anxiety conditions and physical damage

So what is burnout?

Burnout defined as "a state of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion either from sustained and excessive stress". It is natural for us all to feel overwhelmed at some point, there are always days when it is difficult to muster the effort to start yet another day at work. However if you are beginning to feeling like this every day and you are exhausted all of the time then you could be suffering from the symptoms of burnout.

One of the main issues is that as many of us are not aware of how to spot the signs of burnout then the effects can simply sneak up on us and catch us unawares. This can have a detrimental effect on not only our professional working life, but it can also start to impact our relationships with friends and family.

It is simply not enough to make a commitment to yourself that you will change the situation for the better by simply taking a holiday (which will probably have little or no effect on resolving your issues) or involving yourself less at work, but rather to prevent burnout from affecting us in the first place through a having in place a 'safety net' of lifestyle commitments.

So two questions many will ask themselves are "what are the symptoms of burnout?" and "how would I prevent burnout from happening to me in the first instance?". Let's address the first of these issues.

The main symptoms of burnout

1. You are normally a positive person, but now you are always negative and defeatist in your attitude
2. You feel as though you are static in one place, and nothing you do can change it
3. You are unable to concentrate for any amount of time
4. You are beginning to neglect your daily tasks and including work
5. You shut yourself away from others and avoid social engagements
6. You are more irritable
7. You are constantly tired
8. You feel as though your personal opinions and values are no longer important
9. You are in denial about feeling down

Just as important as it is to recognise the symptoms of burnout it is also important to be able to put measures in place before hand so that steps can be taken to limit the impact of its negative effects on your well-being. For a comprehensive list of how to prevent burnout from happening to you take a look at Adam Dechis's personal journey of recognising and dealing with burnout on Lifehacker

Have you ever had to deal with burnout? What experiences or tips would you like to share?

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