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Burn Out: What to Know and How to Overcome

February 28, 2023

woman with her head on a desk over a laptop with words above her reading "pressure, stress, life, emotional, depression, sleep"

Are you feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and unable to focus? If so, you may be experiencing burnout. Burnout is a genuine issue that affects many people. It can be hard to identify and even harder to cope with. This article will explore burnout, its signs and symptoms, and strategies to help you manage it. We’ll also discuss how to create a self-care plan and provide resources for those dealing with burnout. 

What is Burn Out?

Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Several factors, such as an overwhelming workload, an unhealthy work environment, or a lack of support, can cause it. Burnout can leave people feeling drained, unmotivated, and unable to cope with their daily lives. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently classified burnout as a medical condition in their International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). They define burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

Burnout is a global epidemic. The hustle culture of today has gradually become normalized, and working all hours of the day and night has become more common. But there is a heavy price we pay both physically and mentally when we do this to ourselves. Many times people are not aware that they are burnt out because they are so used to running on empty that they think it is “normal” to feel this way. The idea that we must sacrifice our well-being to succeed or reach the top is not true. 

Signs and Symptoms of Burn Out

There are several signs and symptoms of burnout you should look out for. It is essential to be aware of these to recognize when you may be suffering from burnout and take steps to deal with it.

The most common signs and symptoms of burnout include:

  • Cynicism
  • Feeling physically and mentally exhausted
  • Having decreased motivation and enthusiasm
  • A decrease in job satisfaction and productivity
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability and moodiness
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Social withdrawal
  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, taking the time to assess your situation and take steps to address the issue is essential.

The Impact of Burn Out on Work Performance

Burnout can have a significant impact on work performance. People suffering from burnout may be less productive, take longer to complete tasks, and make more mistakes. When we think about making mistakes, we must consider how this affects the quality of our work. Would we want someone in healthcare feeling this way taking care of our family? or A lawyer going to court for us on the most important life-changing day of our lives? 

The struggle to focus and feel motivated at work can decrease job satisfaction and the quality of work. Ultimately it can lead to absenteeism as people may feel they need to take time off to deal with the stress and exhaustion of their day. 

The Impact of Burn Out on Mental and Physical Health

Burnout can also have a significant impact on our mental health. It can cause feelings of anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. It can also lead to difficulty engaging in regular activities and routines, such as socializing and exercise. When the mind is exhausted, it is almost like being a little drunk. How are we expected to function daily if we are not the full versions of ourselves? Lastly, burnout can lead to a decline in cognitive function and poor decision-making. When you are overworked, you are more likely to make poor decisions. 

Burnout can also lead to a decrease in self-esteem and an increase in feelings of guilt and shame. This can be due to feeling incomplete in your work, purpose, and yourself. People who are burnt out tend to have more depression and anxiety, causing people to feel isolated and disconnected from the world around them. This exhaustion can lead you to see the world in dark colors, bringing up negative thoughts about yourself or others. The mind tends to shift to such thoughts if we do not correct them with positive ones. 

Pressing your body harder than it can tolerate also leads to physical symptoms such as chronic fatigue, feelings of exhaustion, muscle tension, pain, and even a weakened immune system. This means you are more likely to suffer from stomachaches, headaches, and frequent illnesses, further affecting your mental health. 

Ways to Prevent Burn Out

The best way to prevent burnout is to address the underlying causes. Taking care of yourself, ensuring you get enough rest, and taking time away from work.

Your mental health is so important. Taking time to recharge is one of the best things you can do to increase your productivity, performance, and career. 

It is also essential to recognize your limits and take steps to set realistic expectations and goals. This can help prevent burnout by ensuring you are not taking on too much. This can mean saying no to engagements you do not want to participate in or spending time with people who bring you joy. Finally, practicing self-care and ensuring you care for your physical and mental health is important. 

Creating a Self-Care Plan

Just as athletes prioritize recovery to reach peak performance, so do you. Creating a self-care plan is a great way to improve your well-being and prevent burnout. 

Staying hydrated: We are what we eat and drink. Studies have shown that drinking water can help with stress reduction. Sounds too easy? It’s true! Being dehydrated increases cortisol levels, the stress hormone, causing you to feel more anxious. Drinking water throughout the day can help you feel more relaxed. 

Prioritize sleep: Sleep is foundational to our immunity and our cognitive health. This needs to be prioritized to stay supercharged. Although there are outliers in some scenarios, most people need 7 to 9 hours of sleep. High sleep quality is essential. 

Reset: Release stress throughout the day. Give yourself 60 seconds whenever you are stressed to focus on your breathing, think about what you are grateful for, or take the time to stretch. Doing this helps interrupt the cycle of stress. In this way, you are not accumulating it to take it home. Cumulative stress can lead to attempts at releasing it through binge drinking, binge-scrolling on social media, or binge-watching television, all of which do not help you feel any better. 

Identify your stress type: Knowing your stress type can teach you how to manage your stress so that it doesn’t evolve into anxiety or depression, both of which can lead to burnout. 

Recharge: Include activities that help you relax and recharge, such as yoga, journaling, reading, spending time outdoors, exercising, meditating, and engaging in activities you enjoy.

Set Boundaries: Set boundaries between work and home life and prioritize the things that matter to you. Try not to spread yourself thin by trying to people please or do things that do not bring you joy. If you can’t do something, it’s ok to say no. 

Use Humor: Laughter is powerful stress medicine. Laughter enhances your oxygen intake, stimulating your heart and lungs to release endorphins that make us feel good in our brains. It also relaxes your stress response and stimulates circulation, further relaxing your muscles. 

Declare an end to your workday: Many of us take work home if we don’t already work from home. Setting a clear intention of when the work day is over and sticking to it is paramount. 

Disconnect from your phone and reconnect with people: Spending your time and energy with those who matter to you can heal our souls. Placing distractions such as your phone, laptop, or tablet in another room can allow being fully present with the people that matter in your life. 

Resources for Dealing with BurnOut

If you are struggling with burnout, it is crucial to reach out for help. There are several resources available to help you cope with burnout.

First, talking to your doctor or mental health professional is essential. They can help you to identify the causes of burnout and develop a plan to cope with it.

In addition, several online resources or resources at work may be available to you. These include websites such as The Burn Out Project, which provides information, resources, and a burnout quiz to assess how burnt out you are. There are also support groups available, such as the Burn Out Support Group on Facebook.


Burnout is a very real issue that affects many people. But it should not be the price we have to pay for success. We must shift our mindset from this hustle culture and find ways to stay mentally and physically well. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of burnout is the first step in improving our mental health, work performance, and overall joy in life. Taking the proper steps, creating a self-care plan, and reaching out for help can also be beneficial. When you take care of yourself, you are better at everything you want to do. Remember to take time for yourself every day and stay healthy. 

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