Burnout is sneaky. The levels of stress build, and we may not be aware of how severe they are until we collapse. Vigilance can help prevent burnout, but only if you know what you’re looking for.
5 Signs of Burnout
Since it is hard to recognize the path to burnout when you are treading it, it is important to know the signs of burnout. Spotting burnout early is key to getting back to full strength.
Since burnout is defined as exhaustion, it is good to know how exhausted you are on an ongoing basis. This is not just physical exhaustion, either…emotional and mental exhaustion are also components of burnout.
Some questions to ask yourself: am I rested when I get up in the morning? Do I have physical energy? Can I read something challenging? Can I handle the emotions other people are throwing my way?
Once I am headed toward burnout, I find that I am more sensitive. People get under my skin more, I see tasks as more difficult, and I am more negative in my thinking and responses. I also feel more stress about the same items – for instance, a major change in direction while not burnt doesn’t phase me, but causes me to overreact when run down.
This particular sign is hard to recognize because our perceptions color everything we are considering.
Some questions to ask yourself: am I more on edge? Do people seem more interfering, abrasive or pushy? Am I sweating the small stuff?
Lack of Interest
Burnout can shut us down and cause us to not care about deadlines and outcomes. Things that we might have been excited about don’t interest us anymore. Or burnout because of a project can bleed over into other areas of our work and lives.
Some questions to ask yourself: do I have a lack of interest in my projects? Is it confined to one area (work/life)? Is my lack of interest because I don’t see the value, or because I am tired of pushing through?
Overwhelm goes hand in hand with burnout. We get so fried that even the simplest task can seem impossibly large.
Something that wouldn’t phase me while I am whole and healthy seems insurmountable. A task that wouldn’t require much energy if I was rested can seem like trying to move mountains.
I notice burnout when looking at my task list. If I look at the list and can’t even begin to think where to start, or if my reaction to my task list is to run away, this is a sign of the overwhelm that goes with burnout.
Some questions to ask yourself: do I feel buried under a mountain of projects and tasks? Is there no end in sight?
Inability to Focus
There are days when we can’t focus…that’s normal. The inability to focus when burned out, though, I liken more to a sore spot on your arm. You don’t want to keep pushing the sore spot because it hurts, and so you avoid creating yourself more pain.
Focus when crispy is similar. We know we’ve overloaded (even if not consciously) and so we shy away from focusing because it reminds us of the problem.
I can tell the difference between burnout lack of focus and scatterbrain with one simple trick: if I set a timer and attempt to do the task, scatterbrain will give in and I can focus after a minute or so of struggle. Burnout doesn’t respond to the timer.
Questions to ask yourself: is the inability to focus something that can be overcome with my usual methods?
I found a really great article on the signs of burnout from Psychology Today. You can read the article here: The Tell Tale Signs of Burnout…Do You Have Them?.
On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is fully functioning and 10 is burnt crispy, where is your burnout level? Share below.