12 signs you're Going Through Burnout and Strategies to Get Back to Peak Performance

What are the signs of burnout?

Our brain and body can only handle feeling overworked and overwhelmed for so long. If you consistently experience high levels of stress without taking steps to manage or reduce it, exhaustion eventually takes over — leaving you emotionally and physically burned out.

You may begin to feel less motivated since it seems like nothing you do matters.

Since burnout happens gradually, you might not notice symptoms immediately. But once it takes hold, it can affect your ability to function across all aspects of life.

The following 12 signs can help you know when you are going through burnout. 

Signs of Burnout

1. You’re restless

One big sign of burnout is never feeling well-rested. Maybe you aren’t taking enough breaks at work or frantically hopping from one project to the next without slowing down.

When you finally do attempt to relax, you have a hard time sitting still or quieting your mind. 

This can make it hard to recharge when you need it most.

2. You’re awake at all hours of the night

Sleep is one of the first things you lose when you get stressed or overwhelmed. 

Take notice if you’re staying up extra hours trying to finish a project or begin waking up at odd hours without being able to fall back asleep.

You may also be dealing with insomnia if:

  • you’ve had sleep disturbances at least 3 nights a week for at least 3 months
  • sleep problems are creating major distress or causing problems in your ability to function.

3. You’re eating differently

Changes in your eating habits can also be an obvious sign of burnout and that you need to take a break.

In some cases, you might notice yourself eating less than usual or skipping meals without realizing it. Or you might find that you’re eating more than usual and always on the hunt for a snack, even if you aren’t hungry. Both scenarios can be a sign of burnout.

4. You have no motivation

Dragging yourself to your job or losing interest in things you once enjoyed is also another sign of burnout.

Were you once the go-to person for organizing social events at work but can no longer muster the motivation? High-stress levels can turn activities you once enjoyed into monotonous tasks you do out of obligation.

5. You’re sick all the time

When you can’t seem to knock off that one cold that has been going on forever. Or when you are the one who keeps getting knocked out every time a bug goes around the office then maybe it’s time to rest because that is yet another sign of burnout.

Frequent illness may be a sign that you are going through burnout that is having an impact on your immune system. 

Too much stress may lower your body’s ability to fight off infection.

6. You feel zapped of energy

Excessive stress can leave you feeling physically and mentally exhausted — even after 9 hours of sleep.

You might find that it’s taking you an extra 10 minutes to get out the door in the morning. 

Or your usual workout is feeling extra difficult, even though nothing’s changed.

7. You have a hard time concentrating

Are you struggling to follow what’s being said during a meeting? Or do you find yourself rereading the same two lines when you try to unwind with a good book? That there is a sign of burnout

No one is immune to mild forgetfulness or off days from time to time. But if you find that your usual tasks are taking longer or feel harder to get through, you may have too much on your plate.

8. You feel indifferent about your life

It’s normal to feel a bit down every once in a while when it comes to your work and other responsibilities, but you shouldn’t constantly feel demoralized by what you do.

Your daily activities and tasks should give you a sense of satisfaction and achievement after completing them.

Waiting for the time to pass you by or generally feeling bored all the time makes it hard to feel connected and engaged, which is a sign of burnout.

Also, read 6 ways to relieve anxiety naturally

9. You’re getting cynical or negative

Are you snapping at people more often than not? Is everyone getting on your last nerve?

In the beginning, burnout can look like mild tension and irritability, but it can quickly turn into angry outbursts at work or at home. You may not even know what you’re mad about — just that you’re in a permanently cranky state.

Paying attention to your frustration can help you determine whether you’re overreacting to minor annoyances.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Have you become increasingly impatient with coworkers lately?
  • Do you have more frequent outbursts after a challenging day?
  • Have you screamed or snapped at an innocent bystander and felt shocked afterward?

10. You’re withdrawn

Have you found yourself lately turning down plans to go out, or making up excuses to avoid social plans?

Solo time is important and necessary, but when you’re under a lot of stress, it can isolate you and potentially damage your relationships.

 Look at how often you avoid going out and seeing people, and whether you used to be a lot more social.

11. You’re self-medicating

Do you fix yourself a quick drink as soon as you walk in the door after work? Or keep painkillers in your back pocket?

There’s nothing wrong with doing this from time to time, but make sure you’re not relying on drugs or alcohol as a tool for coping with stress.

Consider seeking help or new relaxation techniques if you notice that:

  • you can’t stay away from a particular substance, even if you want to
  • you find yourself needing more of the substance to achieve the same effects
  • you experience withdrawal symptoms when you go without the substance
  • you spend most of your day looking forward to or thinking about using a substance

12. You aren’t enjoying your favorite things

Losing interest in things you once loved is a telltale sign that something’s not quite right. If going to the movies or dining out with friends was once fulfilling but has started to feel pointless, it’s time to take a step back.

Feeling apathetic about things you once loved can be a sign of burnout, but it can also be a symptom of depression.

What do you do next after getting to know that you are going through burnout?

We came up with a list of things you can do to help you get relief.

How to reset when having burnout

Find the source 

The first thing you want to do is to know the trigger.

It’s tough to make changes when you don’t know exactly what needs to change, but exploring contributing factors or sources of stress in your life can help.

Burnout often relates to job and professional triggers, like the stress of an increasingly demanding job. But you could also experience burnout when:

  • having a rigorous academic schedule
  • dealing with relationship problems, especially ones that seem to circle with no resolution
  • caring for a loved one with a serious or chronic health condition

Trying to do too much on your own also creates an ideal environment for burnout to fester.

The stress that accompanies every single factor might be manageable on its own, but the combination of all the stresses can easily overwhelm you if you don’t take steps to get support.

Identify immediate changes you can make

After identifying the stressors you need to recognize ways to lighten your load.

For instance, if you have several time-consuming projects keeping you working long hours, week after week?

Instead, try accepting that doing it all isn’t realistic, and ask for help. You could consider reassigning some projects or adding someone else to your team.

The other scenario would be when you are overwhelmed with work and personal commitments but still can’t bring yourself to turn down requests from loved ones.

Those with people-pleasing tendencies often take on too much to avoid letting anyone down.

If you’re already running out of hours in the day for the things you absolutely need to do, adding more tasks will only add more frustration and stress.

Evaluate your existing commitments and consider canceling or rescheduling a few. The immediate relief this brings may surprise you.

Talk to people you trust

If you feel unsure of how to begin sorting through the causes of burnout and looking for ways to ease your stress, that’s normal.

Burnout can become so overwhelming that determining how to address it still seems exhausting. It’s also hard to identify potential solutions when you feel completely spent.

Involving a trusted loved one can help you feel supported and less alone. Friends, family members, and partners can help you brainstorm possible solutions.

They’re close enough to your life to have some understanding of what works for you but still have enough distance to consider the situation with some clarity.

Opening up to people about the distress you’re experiencing can take some courage, especially when you worry they’ll see you as incapable or lazy.

But struggling through burnout alone can make overcoming it more difficult.

And you never know, your loved ones may have experienced burnout themselves and could have some valuable insight to share.

Examine your options

Unfortunately, addressing burnout isn’t always easy. But this doesn’t have to mean it will hold you down forever.

You may not see an easy road to recovery, but a little exploration may unearth some kind of path.

Maybe you have a lot of work at home or in the office

It might be time to start searching for a new job that respects your capabilities or get someone to help do the chores at home.

If you feel burned out because of relationship difficulties, a counselor can offer support as you take a closer look at your relationship and whether it’s serving your best interests.

In short, when you give everything you have, and it still isn’t enough, there’s not much more you can do besides move on — for your own sake.

Sometimes, just knowing other routes exist can renew hope and help you remember you have the power to make changes, even if those changes don’t happen right away.

Take back control

Burnout can make you feel powerless. You might feel as if your life is rushing past and you can’t keep up.

If outside factors contributed to burnout, you might blame these circumstances and have a hard time seeing what you can do to change the situation.

You may not have had control over what happened to bring you to this point, but you do have the power to take back control and begin to recharge.

To start, try these tips:

  • Prioritize. Some things just have to get done, but others can wait until you have more time and energy. Decide which tasks are less important and set them aside.
  • Delegate. You can’t do everything yourself, so if more tasks than you can handle need immediate attention, pass them off to someone you trust.
  • Leave work at work. Part of burnout recovery is learning to prioritize work-life balance. After leaving work, focus on relaxing and recharging for the next day.
  • Be firm about your needs. Talk to others involved and let them know what’s happening. Explain that you need some support in order to take care of your health and manage your workload productively.

Set boundaries

Setting limits on the time you give to others can help you manage stress while recovering from burnout.

Before you agree to help someone or accept an invitation, consider the following:

  • Push the pause button.
  • Take a moment to walk through everything that will be required of you if you agree.
  • Ask yourself if you really have the time and energy.
  • Consider whether doing it offers value to you.

Part of boundary setting also involves learning to say no.

You’re not lazy, selfish, or mean for declining a request for your precious time. Being selective about accepting commitments is key to taking care of your mental health, honoring the truly important commitments, and proactively preventing burnout.

Practice self-compassion

Reaching a point of burnout can bring up feelings of failure and a loss of purpose or life direction. You might feel as if you can’t do anything properly or you’ll never achieve your goals.

When you reach a point of burnout, you’ve probably pushed yourself past the point of what most people would realistically consider themselves capable of for some time.

What would you say to a friend in your situation? Chances are, you’d offer empathy and kindness instead of telling them how utterly they failed.

Grant yourself the same love and support. Remind yourself you don’t have to be perfect, and that it’s OK to need a break.

So maybe you can’t complete three proposals at once. Who can, really? And so what if you didn’t ace that last exam? You still got a decent score.

In the end, all you can do is your best with the strengths you have. But you’ll find it easier to use those strengths when you aren’t running on empty.

Pay attention to your needs

Taking charge of your physical and mental health is key to burnout recovery.

In an ideal world, reaching the point of burnout would mean you immediately take time off, clear your schedule, and dedicate your days to rest and relaxation.

But most people simply can’t do that.

If you have bills to pay and children to take care of, quitting may seem impossible until you have other prospects.

If you’re caring for a sick family member who has no other relatives, you may not have anyone else to turn to for support.

Practicing good self-care can make recharging easier while you try other strategies to reset.

Try these tips:

  • Make enough time for restful sleep.
  • Spend time with loved ones, but don’t overdo it — alone time is important, too.
  • Try to get some physical activity in each day.
  • Eat nutritious meals and stay hydrated.
  • Try meditation, yoga, or other mindfulness practices for improved relaxation.

Remember what makes you happy

Severe burnout can drain you and make it hard to remember what you used to enjoy.

You may have lost your passion for a career you once loved and feel angry and resentful when you get to work each day.

Perhaps you no longer care about your favorite hobbies, or you’ve stopped responding to texts from friends because you lack the energy for conversation.

You might even feel perpetually irritated and snap at your partner or family without meaning to.

To counter these feelings, create a list of the things that bring you joy. It might include things like:

  • Long walks with your best friend
  • Taking your child to the park
  • Reading a book in the bathtub

Make time for these activities every week, and keep this habit up even after you feel more like yourself.

Talk to a therapist

Confronting burnout isn’t easy, especially when it’s already taken a toll on your personal relationships and quality of life.

A therapist can offer professional guidance by helping you identify causes, explore possible coping methods, and navigate any life challenges contributing to burnout.

Burnout can provoke feelings of helplessness and can also play a part in feelings of depression, so it’s particularly important to talk with a therapist if you:

  • feel hopeless
  • have a persistent low mood
  • experience thoughts of hurting yourself or others

Resetting yourself after burnout can be a lengthy process — but by choosing to address it, you’ve already taken the first step.


Everyone needs a break from time to time, but it can be hard to recognize when it’s time to hit pause.

If you find yourself feeling a bit off or doing things differently than you used to, you may need a break from your daily schedule. 

You may also want to consider reaching out to a therapist for additional support. They can help you identify major sources of stress in your life and help you come up with ways to prioritize your own well-being.

Keep in mind that many of these signs overlap with symptoms of depression. If you find that these feelings persist, even after taking a restful break, it’s worth following up with a mental health professional.

Acha Maoni

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *