The Many Signs of Burnout – And How to Recover From It

A sad and depressed man with his head in his hands sits at his computer experiencing burnout

Chronic stress can contribute to burnout. Unfortunately, experts are saying that burnout is on the rise. Here’s how to recognize it – and what you can do to recover.

Key takeaways:

  • Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that is caused by chronic stress.

  • Over 75% of employed adults have reported experiencing burnout.

  • Burnout can affect all areas of your life, including home, work, your social life, and even your physical and mental health.

  • Symptoms can be physical, emotional, and behavioral.

  • The “3 R’s” – Recognize, Reverse, and Resilience – can help you prevent and recover from burnout.

It’s likely you’ve heard someone say they’re dealing with “burnout” to describe being exhausted and overwhelmed. What exactly is this? And, how can you recognize it?

Burnout is caused by chronic stress and is characterized by emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion. If you’re experiencing burnout, you may feel overwhelmed, drained emotionally, and unable to meet the constant demands of your day-to-day life. This increased and prolonged stress may decrease your interest and motivation to engage in various activities – including ones that previously excited you.

Operating from a state of burnout can zap your energy and decrease your productivity, which in turn leads to more burnout as the tasks pile up. It can leave you feeling helpless, hopeless, and even resentful of your obligations. Unfortunately, the effects of burnout are pervasive and insidious, and what starts out as burnout in one area of your life can begin to affect any and all areas, including your work, home, and social life.

It can even have health consequences – chronic stress changes your physiology and impacts your nervous system, leaving you vulnerable to mental health challenges and sicknesses like colds and flus. Unfortunately, it’s exceedingly common – over 75% of employed adults have experienced it, and that number is on the rise.

So, what are the signs and what can you do about it? We explain.

What are the symptoms of burnout?

Everyone has bad days or times they feel overwhelmed and underappreciated. If you feel like this most of the time, though, you may be experiencing burnout. Burnout doesn't happen overnight; it’s a gradual process, and if you learn to recognize the red flags, you may be able to prevent it by reducing your stress.