How to Recognize the Early Signs of Burnout: Best 10+ Tips

Managing workloads and balancing between professional and personal growth is often easier said than done. Moreover, recognizing the early signs of burnout is often harder than you might expect. More often than you might expect, really. 

A survey held throughout the UK in 2020 revealed that 44% of employees had had casual burnout symptoms, while 23% were experiencing habitual burnout. 

In case you’ve been wondering what is burnout exactly, here it comes:

The World Health Organization recently included burnout as a part of their International Classification of Diseases, defining it as “a chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Moreover – they estimated that 1 in 4 adults would be affected by burnout at some point in their lives. 

What Are The Five Stages of Burnout?

According to the Veninga and Spradley’s Stage Model, further adapted by the Winona State University, burnout unveils in five stages:

  1. The Honeymoon Stage: Marked by high job satisfaction, engagement, enthusiasm, and creativity.
  2. The Balancing Stage: You now are certainly aware that some days are better than others when it comes to handling job stress.
  3. The Chronic Stress Stage: Characterized by early signs of burnout such as chronic fatigue, physical sickness, irritation, and despair.
  4. The Burnout Crisis Stage: Your physical symptoms intensify and multiply, you obsess over work difficulties, and you develop an “escapist mentality.”
  5. The Enmeshment: The indications of burnout are so rooted in your lifestyle that you are more likely to be identified with another significant physical or emotional problem rather than burnout. 

Needless to say – the earlier you identify and address your burnout symptoms, the easier it would be for you to regain balance successfully. On the other hand, ignoring these indications will put you in a state of habitual burnout. Then, your condition can further develop into anxiety, depression, and even chronic physical illness.

Stages of burnout

10+ Early Signs of Burnout 

Experts point out a list of red flags that can serve you as an early burnout checklist. Here is what they include:

Low Spirits

It begins with a cynical attitude towards your career and your workplace… But then it easily extends to different areas of your life – including socially, personally, and generally. Things that used to inspire you do not produce a positive impression anymore. Your work can become mechanical, and you may become emotionally distant from everyone around you.

Persistent Tiredness and Sleep Disturbances

When you feel so tired, but you can’t sleep…” something has been going in the wrong direction. This is a vicious cycle when you feel a constant lack of energy and vitality, and yet you aren’t able to get a good night of sleep. You find it hard to fall asleep, you wake up easily, and your dreams are not-so-relaxing. 

Anxiety and Mood Swings

If your cognitive and emotional compass is going mad these days, pay attention. Early signs of burnout include irritability, depressive symptoms, anxiousness, and frequent mood shifts that are hard to control. Of course, these symptoms can indicate different mental health difficulties – but if they get worse at your workplace or you simply classify them as work-related, burnout is a probable cause to look into.

Changes in Your Work Performance

Everyone has their ups and downs, but lengthier declines of performance come to reveal less concentration, less motivation, less focus, and less ability to realize one’s potential. If you can’t bring yourself to stick to your schedule or simply forget tasks all the time, you might want to design a plan for restoring your inner balance. 

And Others

Your general physical and mental well-being, combined with the type of job you’re having and the way you’re usually handling stress, can produce a variety of early signs of burnout such as:

  • Detachment and apathy;
  • Self-doubt episodes and self-image issues;
  • Headaches and migraines;
  • Nausea and brain fog;
  • Reduced sexual drive;
  • Repetitive stomach problems;
  • Sadness, gloominess, and negativity. 

The more of them you’re experiencing, the more likely a burnout is. In some cases, it may take months to pick up the pieces and see the whole picture – but once you do, you are strongly advised to react timely and try to revise your perspective. 

signs of bunout

How Long Does It Take to Recover From a Burnout?

Sometimes, taking a casual break and distracting yourself is simply not enough to address burnout. In fact, heavy burnouts can take months and even years to overcome, so you will need a long-term strategy. 

Setting a healthy work-life balance needs to be your top priority once you suspect burnout. It begins when you set boundaries and stop trying to be there for everyone, every minute of your day. 

Instead, plug off when your working hours are done and begin focusing on your healthy diet, physical activities, and social life satisfaction. Enjoy a nice hobby, spend more time in natural settings, and don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you need to. 

Well-being apps and games are a good way to begin your journey yourself. Meanwhile, share your experiences with friends and family, or reach out to support groups in or outside your professional circle.

If that’s not enough – seek a professional opinion on how to address your problem and re-evaluate your priorities. Because – yes! – there is nothing wrong with being your own top priority and putting your needs above the needs of your employers.  

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