How To Identify Signs Of Burnout And What To Do About It

How To Identify Signs Of Burnout And What To Do About It

Burnout is a reaction to constant exposure to prolonged mental, emotional, and physical stress and constantly feeling swamped. Burnout is most commonly experienced regarding work, when you are overwhelmed, emotionally spent, and unable to cope with the demands of your job.

Although it is a common experience, it can be difficult to identify if you are experiencing burnout as it isn't a medical diagnosis. Yet, it is important to realise when you’re burnt out, as a state of mental and physical exhaustion is not only harmful to the self. It can also have a negative effect on your friendships, family relationships, and career.

Read on to learn how to identify the signs of burnout and how you can cope.

Signs of burnout

Burnout doesn't happen overnight. It happens gradually because of stress from your job. At first, signs and symptoms can be subtle. However, the longer they remain unaddressed, the worse they can become, resulting in a breakdown. Here are some of the common signs of burnout:

1. Exhaustion

When you are perpetually under high stress, you spend a lot of energy trying to cope with environmental demands. As a result, your energy levels are depleted. You might also exhibit extreme tiredness and low mood. These symptoms can also present themselves in the form of physical pain, such as headaches or stomach and bowel problems (Casarella, 2022).

2. Isolation

Dealing with burnout might cause you to show signs of frustration or cynicism towards your work and colleagues. You may start to distance yourself emotionally in order to protect yourself from unwanted feelings of anxiety or stress. This may lead you to stop socialising or confiding in your family members, close friends, or co-workers as you numb your feelings about your work and environment.

3. Frequent illnesses

The stress of burnout, as well as other long-term stress, can affect your immune system, putting you at greater risk of colds, influenza, and insomnia. It is also possible for burnout to lead to mental health concerns, such as depression and anxiety (Fraga, 2019).

4. Reduced performance

Another common indicator of burnout is reduced performance. Burnout can happen in various settings, whether at work, at home or when caring for loved ones, as it drains one's energy and leaves little motivation to perform daily tasks. As a result, individuals experiencing burnout may struggle with concentrating, handling responsibilities, and expressing creativity. This may in turn worsen the burnout as unpleasant thoughts and feelings of not being good enough may arise.

How to handle burnout

Once you recognise the symptoms of burnout, there are several steps you can take to prevent a breakdown:

1. Speak to your supervisor

If you are facing burnout because of your job, try speaking to your supervisor and discussing a more manageable workload if you are in an environment where this is possible. Communication is essential in creating a healthy working environment. Try to work together with your supervisor to reach compromises or solutions.

2. Try a relaxing activity

Exercising is not only good for our physical health, but it can also help to give us an emotional boost. This is because there is a connection between physical and mental health.

Running short on time? You don't have to allocate several hours at the gym to enjoy the advantages of exercise. Quick workouts and brief walks are convenient for incorporating physical activity into your daily routine. Meditation, yoga and tai chi are also effective ways to release stress. You can relieve tension by engaging in these activities.

It is important to note that one of the risk factors for burnout is the need to be productive all the time. Prioritising relaxation can be beneficial in the long run, as it helps maintain energy levels, enhances health, and improves focus, ultimately contributing to productivity.

3. Find support

Speaking with family, close friends, and trusted co-workers is the best way to express your feelings and ask for support. You can deal with the pressures of your job with their support. Another excellent option to express your emotions and get assistance is to seek professional guidance from services like adult counselling in Singapore.


Burnout is a state of exhaustion that can have negative effects on various aspects of our lives, including our relationships, work, and health. While it can be challenging to identify the symptoms, being aware of the signs and taking proactive measures can help prevent a breakdown. If you are experiencing burnout, it is essential to seek support from your supervisor, engage in relaxing activities, and speak to trusted friends or family.

If you find that your personal relationship is adversely affected, seeking professional guidance, such as couple counselling, can also be a helpful step towards coping with burnout.


Casarella, J. (2022). Burnout: Symptoms and Signs

Fraga, J. (2019). A Guide to Burnout