After publishing a popular blog post on “5 Effective Steps To Reduce Stress And Avoid Burnout” here, the obvious question many people ask is –  am I personally already suffering from burnout or just heading toward it? What are these burnout signs?

Here is a list of burnout signs and also a self-test to help you answer this important question before it’s too late. You can read the whole post or just skip to Burnout test section right away to see whether you already reached that point.

What is burnout?

Important burnout signs and symptoms

First of all we need to understand what burnout is and is not. It is easy to confuse it with having just too much stress or mixed feelings about how good you are as a person, an employee, boss, etc. Stress, anxiety and burnout are close relatives though, as having too much stress, and not handling the stress well, is usually the cause of burnout and depression.

Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.

The American Psychological Association’s David Ballard, PsyD describes job burnout as “an extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in their job performance.”

The difference between stress and burnout

I recently came across a very good article by called “Preventing Burnout”, which describes the difference between stress and burnout. Basically:

Stress, by and large, involves too much.

Too many pressures that demand too much of you physically and psychologically. Stressed people can still imagine, though, that if they can just get everything under control, they’ll feel better.

Burnout, on the other hand, is about not enough.

Being burned out means feeling empty, devoid of motivation, and beyond caring. People experiencing burnout often don’t see any hope of positive change in their situations.

If excessive stress is like drowning in responsibilities, burnout is being all dried up.

Burnout signs, difference between Stress and Burnout

Warning burnout signs and early symptoms

Here is a good list of burnout signs from the same article. Think of the early symptoms of burnout as warning signs or red flags that something is wrong that needs to be addressed. If you pay attention to these early warning signs, you can prevent a major breakdown. If you ignore them, you’ll eventually burn out.

Physical signs and symptoms of burnout

  • Feeling tired and drained most of the time
  • Lowered immunity, getting sick a lot
  • Frequent headaches, back pain, muscle aches
  • Change in appetite or sleep habits

Emotional signs and symptoms of burnout

  • Sense of failure and self-doubt
  • Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated
  • Detachment, feeling alone in the world
  • Loss of motivation
  • Increasingly cynical and negative outlook
  • Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment

Behavioral signs and symptoms of burnout

  • Withdrawing from responsibilities
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Procrastinating, taking longer to get things done
  • Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope
  • Taking out your frustrations on others
  • Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early

Do you have any of these signs?

Check yourself – Burnout test from Psychology Today

I have also discovered an interesting Burnout Test from Psychology Today magazine. This self-test is FREE. You get a short summary describing your current stage, based on your answers. The free version doesn’t provide deep insights, but it will give you some indication of how close or how far you are from burnout. Try it for yourself.

Here are 2 versions of the test, based on the type of work you are doing.

  1. If you work directly with the public (clients, patients, students, customers, etc.), or provide any kind of service, use this version: Burnout Test (Service Fields) – FREE, 42 questions, 5 minutes.
  2. If you DO NOT work directly with the public (clients, patients, students, customers, etc.), or provide any kind of service, use this version: Burnout Test (Non-Service Fields) FREE, 45 questions, 5 minutes.

Additional reading about Preventing Burnout and Recovering from Burnout:

My blog post “5 Effective Steps To Reduce Stress And Avoid Burnout”

Recovering From Burnout by MindTools

The Road To Resilience by American Psychological Association

Have a meaningful and less stressful day! 🙂


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