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Career Development Tips

Work Burnout Symptoms & Preventative Techniques

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated June 29, 2021

Guide Overview

What are work burnout symptoms? How to recognize burnout symptoms at workActionable methods to prevent work burnout 

Guide Overview

An introduction to work burnout symptoms

Work burnout can jeopardize your health, social life, and career. Identifying its symptoms and working to proactively combat it is essential. Doing so can help you to minimize or avoid over-taxation due to work and protect yourself. Learn about burnout and discover preventative techniques below.

What are work burnout symptoms? 

Work burnout symptoms are the physiological and behavioral manifestations of a professional’s inability to handle job demands. They are caused by occupational burnout, which is characterized by exhaustion and a lack of motivation in a worker. This condition results from a prolonged period of stress triggered by a person’s workplace characteristics and work ethic. Work burnout symptoms can occur no matter your experience level, position, or industry. Learning about these manifestations of burnout offers several advantages:

  • It can help you to maintain your job performance. Burnout prevents workers from handling their job duties effectively. Knowing its symptoms can help you to take immediate action if you see them in yourself. If you’re suffering from burnout, taking preventative action in a timely manner can help you address the causes of your condition before it reduces your work performance.
  • It can help your career. Work burnout can hurt your career in several ways, such as by causing problems in your professional relationships. Learning about the symptoms of job burnout can help your career because you can take action to minimize or avoid these negative impacts.
  • It can protect your health. As occupational burnout is triggered by a long period of stress, it can have several harmful impacts on your health. Learning to recognize the warning signs of burnout when they occur can safeguard your emotional and physical health in the future.
  • It can help you to improve your job performance. Learning about these symptoms can help you to improve your performance at work. This is due to the fact that with this knowledge, you will be motivated to develop habits that prevent burnout, and these healthy behaviors will improve your efficacy at work. For example, getting enough sleep each day is a necessary behavior to avoid burnout; doing so will also improve your performance because you will have more energy to contribute to your job duties.
  • It helps you to avoid burnout. If you’re not currently experiencing burnout, learning about its symptoms can help you to act proactively and avoid it.

How to recognize burnout symptoms at work

Here are the common warning signs of burnout that you should be aware of:


The most obvious and widespread sign of work burnout is tiredness. If you have experienced the following, you’re likely to be experiencing burnout:

  • You feel tired in the morning before you start working.
  • At work, you feel tired all the time, even when you’re working on a simple task.
  • Your energy reserves always seem insufficient to handle your job demands.

Lack of enthusiasm for job duties

Ideally, thinking of your job should ready you to start contributing and thriving! If you’re frequently feeling unenthusiastic about your job, occupational burnout could be the cause.

Learn more: Career Planning Guide for Professional Success

Negative emotions related to your occupation

Usually, your job should inspire positive feelings, such as excitement when you get a new task or motivation to get a promotion. However, if you’re experiencing several of the following feelings regularly about work, you’re likely to be suffering from burnout:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Dissatisfaction
  • Sadness
  • Indifference
  • Fear
  • Jealousy
  • Frustration
  • Anger

Problems in your ability to think effectively

Workplace stressors can cause chronic stress, which affects cognitive function — your brain’s ability to interpret the various factors in your environment and understand them. Here are the indicators of reduced functionality in this area:

  • Often, you find it difficult to concentrate at work.
  • You regularly forget important things at work.
  • You find it difficult to solve problems, including simple ones.
  • You find it difficult to understand what is said by others.
  • Tuning out of conversations and meetings has become a habit.

Learn more: Key Critical Thinking Skills and Examples

Failure to engage in self-care

Taking care of yourself is an essential behavior you must develop, for it enables you to protect yourself. When you’re suffering from work burnout, the exhaustion, negative emotions, and cognitive issues it causes detract from essential self-care routines. Here are indicators of that you’ve been neglecting self-care:

  • You regularly fail to get seven hours of sleep each day.
  • You do not schedule time off work for rejuvenation activities, like having a spa day.
  • You do not set aside time to rest, even on the weekend.
  • You are reducing activities in your self-care routines, such as moisturizing your skin after a shower, to make more time for work.
  • You have started eating fewer plant products, such as vegetables and fruits, each day and start eating more processed foods.
  • You do not make an effort to spend time in natural spaces, such as a tree-filled park or your own backyard.
  • You do not choose to talk to others about things that are not related to your job.
  • You avoid making friends or spending time with the ones you have.
  • When you achieve something at work, you do not treat yourself to a reward or take time to celebrate.

Interpersonal problems

Interpersonal issues are another symptom of work burnout. Essentially, the exhaustion, negative emotions, cognitive issues, and lack of self-care caused by burnout impact your relationships, derailing them. You can identify this symptom in the following situations:

  • You have more conflicts with your subordinates, colleagues, or supervisors at work.
  • You have more conflicts with your family members or friends.
  • You tune out of conversations with the people in your life.

Learn more: Strategies for Resolving Conflict in the Workplace

Obsessing about work

To be successful in any occupation, you need to be committed to it. However, there is a fine — but definite — line between commitment and obsession. In your career, you’re the only person who can keep yourself from crossing this line. Here is how obsessing about work manifests itself:

  • After you come home, you dwell on what went wrong or what could have gone better at work for hours.
  • You think of work during your time off, such as when you’re jogging, getting a massage, or getting a manicure.
  • You think of work while you’re doing your chores, like doing the laundry or mopping the floors.
  • You frequently imagine depressing work situations such as getting fired, blowing things out of proportion and forgetting all the stellar contributions you have made in your job.

Feeling dissatisfied about your life

When you’re suffering from work burnout, it’s normal to feel dissatisfied about different aspects of your life, including ones that are totally unrelated to your job. For example, you may feel a lack of satisfaction about your house or your family in addition to your job.

Reduction in work performance

When affected by occupational burnout, underperformance is inevitable. If you’re underperforming in tasks you used to excel in, this can be a symptom of burnout from work.

A health issue

Over time, work burnout causes health problems. If you’re experiencing a new health condition, such as depression or obesity, in addition to more than four other symptoms on this list, you’re likely to be suffering from burnout.

Learn more: Preparing for Stressful Situations at Work

Actionable methods to prevent work burnout 

Use these preventative methods to avoid work burnout:

Develop a strategy for tuning out of work when you’re not working

You need a strategy for punching out completely when you finish work for the day. For example, write down a slogan for yourself, which you tell yourself when you finish work each business day. It should say something like, “I’m going to enjoy my time off work.” Repeat your slogan each time work pops into your head like an uninvited guest in your party.

Identify workplace stressors and address the fixable ones

The stress you feel at work can be caused by one thing, such as a lack of a resource, or by several different things. Resolve the stressors you can fix with the following steps:

  1. During your time off, sit comfortably with writing materials.
  2. Think about the specific things that make you feel negative about work.
  3. Separate the things you can resolve from those you cannot.
  4. Develop rational strategies to address the fixable stressors.
  5. Check whether your strategies could hurt your career.
  6. Avoid or change the strategies that could do so.
  7. Implement strategies to resolve workplace stressors.

Learn more: Company Culture: Definition and Identifiers

Handle your stress effectively

Use the following steps to handle your stress effectively:

  1. Excuse yourself from a stressful situation at work to spend three minutes in private. Begin this time by focusing on your breathing.
  2. Identify all the resources you need to breathe easily, like physical health and breathable air. Be grateful for these resources that have been given to you. Avoid thinking about anything else.
  3. Next, compare the situation you just left to your act of breathing, which is possible because of all the complex resources that are constantly supplied to you.
  4. Reframe your work situation more realistically — contextualizing and understanding its overall importance by comparing it with your act of breathing.
  5. Return to the work situation, ready to handle it calmly.

Invest in self-care

Develop self-care routines that help you to maintain your emotional and physical health. To do so, try different activities that can improve well-being until you find ones that work for you. Now, you know how to recognize work burnout symptoms. Leverage the techniques you learned to protect yourself effectively in the future. Discover companies hiring by location, job title, and industry

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