Last Updated on March 18, 2021
When was the last time you felt like you had *all* of the energy in the world to accomplish everything on your to-do list? Sounds like a fantasy, right?
Many of us feel completely burned out from our jobs and the responsibilities that come with being an adult (oh, so fun). Even if you’re self-employed or just generally doing work you enjoy doing, you can still burn yourself out.
Generations older than us may roll their eyes at twenty-somethings feeling burned out, but a study by McKinsey found that many millennial women are experiencing job burnout before they even turn 30.
So what’s causing us to feel burned out? More importantly, how do we prevent it from taking over our lives?
Burnout is mostly a product of stress on a daily basis. This can be stress from having too much on your plate, or it can happen when you feel forced to put energy into work that doesn’t fulfill you.
High expectations also play a big role in creating burnout.
Our jobs have high expectations for us. Of course, this isn’t true for every company, but there are so many organizations that expect their employees to be available 24/7. This can make us resent everything about our jobs and the people we work with.
We also set high expectations for ourselves. As a generation, millennials want to make an impact with the work we’re doing. We don’t want to do meaningless or mediocre work when we believe we have more to give. Sometimes we get burned out from our own negative thoughts about ourselves and the situations we’re in.
These high expectations only lead to mental, emotional, and physical burnout. Burnout can make it difficult to do even the simplest things, so everything starts to feel like a chore.
Many of us don’t even realize we’re feeling burned out until it’s too late. At that point, it’s hard to recover without doing a hard reset on your life (if only it was that easy!).
If you can bring awareness to the signs of burnout, you can take positive action before anything gets worse. Keep reading to see if you’re experiencing these 7 signs of burnout and how you can deal with them positively!
7 Signs of Burnout (And How To Deal With Them)
Most of us only notice burnout when we’re already in the depths of it. For example, I only recognize it when it gets to the point where I feel completely drained – mentally, emotionally, and physically. If we can recognize the signs ahead of time, we can give ourselves some extra care in the moment.
Here are seven signs you might be experiencing burnout right now and how you can deal with it:
1. Your to-do list feels extra overwhelming.
If your to-do list is overwhelming on a daily basis, even if it’s things you enjoy doing, it might be a sign that you’re burning yourself out. When we try to cram too much into our day, we either overwork ourselves and/or feel guilty when we don’t get everything done.
Instead, simplify your workload. Stick to three top priorities for the day and focus solely on those. If you need help planning your day effectively, check out this post about planning your day for success.
2. You’re overly exhausted.
If you need five cups of coffee to keep your eyes open during the day, it’s a sign that you’re not taking care of yourself properly. This is where it’s important to check in with yourself and make sure you’re taking care of your basic needs.
Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating regularly? When was the last time you exercised? Have you had enough water? Sometimes the simplest things have the biggest impact on our energy levels.
3. You’re struggling to find motivation.
Maybe you wake up in the morning and snooze your alarm until you have to rush out the door. You know exactly what you need to work on that day, but you just don’t have the motivation to do it. That’s a sign you might be burned out from the work you’ve been doing.
To combat this feeling, it’s important that you identify what’s out of alignment in your life. Spend some time thinking about your vision for the future and where you want to be 3-5 years from now. Once you’ve identified a few key things that you want to manifest in your life, use those to fuel your actions and keep you going.
4. Your self-talk is negative.
Stress can play some powerful mind-tricks on us. When we’re overwhelmed or exhausted, our minds tend to gravitate to a negative place. If you notice that you’re always thinking in negatives or being especially hard on yourself, it could be because you haven’t given yourself time to rest and recharge.
When you feel weighed down by a negative mindset, make sure to give yourself grace. No one holds you to such high standards as you do, and it’s okay to give yourself a break. Say positive affirmations, journal your thoughts out, and take time to truly relax.
5. You keep snapping at others.
People are annoying, that’s a fact. But if you’re noticing that you’re more irritable than usual, it might be a sign that burnout is affecting your mood. It’s easy to take things out on other people, but it never results in anything worthwhile.
Instead, take responsibility for your time and energy. Make sure you’re not over-committing yourself and taking on things that will drain you. Set boundaries around your time and energy so you can enjoy some much-needed alone time.
Read This Next: 7 Ways To Set Better Boundaries & Stop People-Pleasing
6. Everything feels like a chore.
If you feel like you’re doing nothing on a daily basis that excites you or brings you joy, the monotony of daily life will start to take its toll. Most of us are living on autopilot and do the same things every day, so it’s important to incorporate a little fun into your schedule.
Make a conscious effort to add things into your day that you can look forward to. Maybe that’s talking with a friend, going for a walk, listening to music, writing, trying a DIY project, practicing yoga, reading, etc. If you try to do something a little different each day, life will feel more fun.
7. You don’t have time to practice self-care.
Self-care can be a huge help when it comes to dealing with burnout. The tricky part is actually making the time for self-care. If you don’t have time for self-care, it’s probably because you’re prioritizing everyone else’s needs above your own.
Instead, give yourself permission to rest. Whether you have ten minutes or an hour, there are ways to fit self-care into your schedule every single day. Self-care is the ultimate remedy for burnout, so treat it like a priority in your life.
Read This Next: 5 Tips To Pause Hustle Mode And Slow Down
What are your best tips to combat burnout?
After reading this list, I encourage you to check in with yourself and see if any of these signs of burnout are showing up in your life. Of course, this list is not the be-all-end-all. There are so many different ways that burnout can manifest.
The important thing is to tune into your mental, emotional, and physical well-being so you can recognize when you need to take a step back and recharge.
Thanks for sharing the 7 signs of burnout. Looking at it, it seems as if I am on the verge of burning out right now due to several circumstances in my life. The strange this with me is that it usually does not come from external pressure but rather from how I am handling things in my mind.
For example, the last time I felt truly energized, I had a little bit of a rigid schedule and would feed myself well. My work was a little chaotic (I was working at a middle school with kids that were sweet but very energetic).
However, every day I would come home and practice an easy yoga class while burning incense. At the same time, I was starting a breathing practice and would practice with my breath every morning and every night before bed.
Honestly, after about a month I felt completely reenergized. So much so that I was actively looking to do more.
So, I really like your suggestion of adding something that you look forward to. I really enjoyed the yoga and it was at the center of all of the changes that I made.
Thanks, again, for the wonderful article. Your suggestions are spot-on.
I have a self hate sometimes for my self. I stopped about 4 years ago to clean, organize and really take care of myself. I don’t understand this. I use to do everything crafts , work clean cook, I cant figure it out. Do you have any thing that could help me get motivated again. I do work also.
Thank you for any help.
Great post! This is exactly how I was feeling at the beginning of last year. So I made some drastic changes. I quit a job that was draining me, started saying no to the things I don’t really want to do and prioritised my self-care more. Now I make at least one hour for reading before bedtime instead than staying up late working on my computer and it’s made such a difference. I’m more grounded and rested.
Well elaborated,i really needed this.
Thank you so much Catherine for sharing the signs of burnout and what we can do about it. This is such an important topic especially because of the pandemic and the crisis that we’re all facing at this time. As a licensed clinical social worker working from home, I’ve definitely needed to adapt to make some changes whenever I am beginning to feel burned out. I wrote about 5 ways to conquer WFH (work from home) burnout on my blog https://pantearahimian.com/5-ways-to-conquer-wfh-burnout/ and would love your insight. Thank you for being a champion of self-care!
I absolutely love this post (and all your posts). Found myself in a bit of a blog hole reading away at all your posts. I was talking about balance and burnout on my stories yesterday and I think this would be really helpful for some of the guys I was talking too. The bit about generations older than us rolling their eyes at twenty-somethings is a biggie for me! Comparing myself to different generations and people around me. People who work one job 9am-5pm in an office with a good pay and benefits etc and enjoy it, I have absolutely nothing against these people, in fact I applaud them, sometimes I wish I did that too – but I don’t and it’s so easy to forget that I actually do want different things!
I LOVE self care and I had definitely nailed it a few weeks ago (almost consistently) but then lockdown restrictions got lifted a bit and now I’m all off balance again. Thanks for posting, I loveee this xx
Love this ❤️ Thanks for sharing. Something that I’ve recently tried is to plan more “me” time throughout the day. I never use to take breaks or do fun stuff throughout the day because i would’ve rather got my to do list done. But now i add things like take a hot bath, do a face mask, watch tv to my to do lists to prioritize time doing nothing productive as well. That’s helped me a bunch. If i treat myself a little here and there each day i don’t feel as exhausted by the end of the week.
My favorite way to avoid burnout is to sit in the yard and enjoy the sounds of nature. Sometimes, I read in the hammock, which has a screen to keep bugs out. Bugs would just annoy me! My husband put in a water feature and the birds and the water sounds are so soothing. Even just 15-30 minutes after work help keep me uplifted.
I really love this article especially because it came just right in time when I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. When I feel myself getting burnt out, I try to plan a “mini getaway” or vacation somewhere in order to stop thinking about work. I also try to narrow down my to-do list and focus on self-care as a priority. It’s so important to always keep self-care and our own health in mind first for sure. Very helpful and inspiring article! Great reminder.