Burnout Made Simple: What You Need to Know

A lady lying down with face covered with hands

Burnout is a result of an overwhelming amount of stress for a consistent period of time.

It is fairly common nowadays. Especially now that we are in midst of a pandemic.  It happens to almost everyone as most jobs demand high level of energy and stress.  By the time you realise you are burned out, you have probably missed several subtle signs that you need to take time off.

As and when I experience any 2-3 of these signs; I realise it’s time for some relaxations or “me-time”. Perhaps a weekend away, some self-care like indulging in an evening routine without fail or home staycation due to current pandemic. Something to combat burnout and feel rejuvenated.

Here are some of the  some of the subtle signs which I feel would result in a burnout when I experience them from time to time.

1) Difficulty To Focus

One of the first warning sign of burnout is that I notice difficulty in focusing on things that I should focus or enjoy. It’s like lots of thoughts are going on simultaneously and nothing seems to “fit” in anymore. For me this is by far the most obvious sign that I am heading towards a burnout and need a break.

2) You’re Overwhelmed, All The Time

This is like I have tons of work to do and I cannot find ways to break it down in smaller bits to get it done on time and in correct way. I seem unable to process the steps involved to do it. Then you are over whelmed to have a million almost-finished to-do list items, and that gets equally frustrating.

3) Nothing Is Joyful

It does get stressful to manage a family, house, a full time job and maintain relationships. All together. But when my response to every single thing is either eye rolling, short-lived happiness and mostly overwhelm. I know I am gravitating towards a burned out.

4) Trouble Falling Asleep

The early warning signs of burnout are different for me. It’s like I am constantly connected. On social media. I don’t put my mobile phone down or can’t stop watching mindless TV even when I am bored. Sometimes I stay up late, pick up a book and read even if I can’t process a word. It’s like am unable to disconnect from the day and keep thinking about events from the day. Like I am choosing to let exhaustion overtake me rather than to willingly drift off to sleep.

5) Short-Term Memory Loss

Another sign that I experience is forgetting things. It’s like I have no idea of what I did at a particular time, what I ate, what I said to whom. When I start staring at people for things I have supposedly said or did and I have no clue; boy, I feel it’s time I took things seriously.

6) Relaxation time isn’t relaxing

Do you ever sit down with the intention of relaxing? It’s like you hit the couch in your comfiest sweatpants, hot coffee in hand, and ten minutes into the Netflix series realize you haven’t been paying attention? It’s because when we’re burned out, it’s harder to lessen high level of stress levels. And it takes up more energy and brainpower to unwind.

7) Poor Hygiene 

You know, sometimes looking after ourselves can feel like an additional task on our to-do list which is never ending.  And once in a while, neglecting a shower is absolutely normal! But finding it consistently difficult to take care of yourself is an unfortunate sign of burnout. If you’re feeling like you’re neglecting your hygienic needs lately, pay attention to when that shows up for you, and the thoughts and feelings associated with it.


Burnout is an inevitable part of our professional life. It’s important to recognise it. I would call these all “early warning of burnout” because to me, full-blown burnout involves other stronger emotions like anger, a very quick temper, and avoidance and indifference.

How did you recognise your early warning signs of burnout? Comment below

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