Burnout Symptoms – What to look out for

The Three Main Symptoms.

Burnout is a growing global problem. In recent years it’s been classified by the World Health Organisation (2019) as an “occupational phenomenon”, i.e., a work-related syndrome.

Burnout is a complex issue. It can negatively impact our mental, emotional and physical health the ability to perform at work, our relationships and our ability to enjoy life.

The three main factors that define burnout are: –

  • Exhaustion: Overwhelming physical, mental and emotional fatigue that reduces your ability to do your job effectively.
  • Cynicism (also called depersonalisation): Feeling disengaged, mentally detached, or possibly even cynical and negative, about your job, your clients or service users etc.
  • Low sense of job effectiveness: Feeling unproductive, professionally incompetent, and having no sense of achievement.

Of these three main symptoms, exhaustion is the most common symptom that people experience.

Burnout Symptoms in Daily Life

The above main symptoms can manifest in many ways. Here are some symptoms to watch out for, especially if you’ve been experiencing stress for a long time: –

  • Tired all the time (mentally and physically)
  • Problems sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Brain fog
  • Emotionally drained
  • Low mood
  • Yelling at colleagues, family members and/or a pet
  • Bursting into tears unexpectedly
  • Reduced job satisfaction
  • Lost your motivation at work
  • Making mistakes at work, or making more than usual
  • Overeating
  • Turning to alcohol, or drugs
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Purposefully avoiding your usual social activities
  • Experiencing stress-related health problems (e.g., neck and back pain; increased colds, flu and infections; IBS).
  • Neglecting your self-care – not meeting your needs or feeling unable to do the things you normally do to take care of yourself and your well-being (e.g., not going to the gym, yoga class, spending time in nature, do meditation etc.)

Experiencing burnout symptoms?

If you think you might be experiencing burnout, the sooner you take action to restore your energy and well-being, the quicker you can bounce back. The longer you leave it, the more challenging it becomes.

Do speak to your GP or other health care provider. It can be important to rule out other issues too.

For my free burnout quiz, contact me


The Global Organization for Stress (2021). The Symptoms of Stress. www.gostress.com.

Cook, R. M., Fye, H. J., Jones, J. L., & Baltrinic, E. R. (2021). Self-Reported Symptoms of Burnout in Novice Professional Counselors: A Content Analysis. Professional Counselor, 11(1), 31-45.

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