5 Signs You're Burning Out

Burnout can impact just about anyone. But, people who are extra dedicated and committed to their jobs, or people working in particularly stressful and demanding positions, might be especially prone to it. If signs and symptoms of burnout go unaddressed, you could find yourself being forced to take a break from your job – whether you want to or not. So, let's take a look at a few common signs of burnout. Learning to recognize these signs, and slowing down accordingly, could help you save your career before it's too late.


(Photo Credit: AMagill/Flickr)

1. You love your job.

Maybe it seems counterintuitive that loving your job would make you prone to burnout, but that's exactly the case. A recent report from Staples Advantage found that although 53 percent of workers felt overwhelmed at work, 86 percent still feel happy and motivated nonetheless. When we love what we do, we're more prone to give it our all, investing our time, energy, and our hearts at every turn. This is wonderful, but when combined with other factors (like the ones listed below) it can be a recipe for disaster. Definitely go on loving your job though, just be on the lookout for other signs of burnout and remember to take care of yourself.

2. Look out for signs of physical and emotional exhaustion.

If you can't sleep (or can't stop sleeping), or if you are getting sick a lot, these could be signs that you are starting to burn out. It isn't normal or healthy to regularly feel anxious, angry, and/or depressed. Listen to your emotions and your body. If one or both are screaming for a vacation, you might be wise to take one.

3. You have a ton to do and not enough time to do it.

According to the Staples Advantage Workplace Index report, 49 percent of folks say that having more time to complete tasks and decreasing their workload would reduce burnout. Being overworked isn't the only cause of burnout, but it's certainly the most obvious one. If you really feel as though you consistently don't have enough time to complete all of your tasks, you might want to consider talking to your boss about changing things up a little. Otherwise, you might find yourself having a more dire conversation down the road.

4. Your personal life is suffering.

Work-life balance isn't just about the number of hours spent at one place or the other. If your evenings and weekends are consumed by merely recovering from work (and building up the strength to go back) then you aren't striking a good balance, no matter how much time you spend at home. Your personal life should be complex and engaging, just like your professional world. It should challenge you, captivate you, and make you think. If you find you don't have time or energy for friends and family, and if your hobbies and interests have all but disappeared, you might burn out not too far down the road.

5. You're a police officer, teacher, or have another job with high burnout rates.

Some professions have higher rates of burnout and turnover than others. Teaching and law enforcement are notorious for inducing burnout, and that makes sense given the stress and depth of responsibility workers in these fields are asked to shoulder each day. Other folks like retail workers and restaurant workers deal with a lot of stress, and receive little appreciation to boot. If you work a job with high burnout rates, be mindful of the risk and take extra good care of yourself.

Tell Us What You Think

What are some other telltale signs of burnout? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


  1. 17 Amazon 17 May
    I'm a newer med/surg nurse. I am overwhelmed every day at work and look forward to having the experience under my belt...hoping the newness of this career is why I'm so overwhelmed. But even the seasoned nurses state they're overworked, overwhelmed, and fed up. Poor staffing and high patient ratios (6 patients to 1 nurse) make me very sorry for choosing this second-career. But how can I be burned out after just a couple months? I'm sticking it out as long as I can, but it has to get better. Fortunately, the physicians and staff are generally kind; it's just the piled up work load due to poor staffing that prevents job satisfaction and prevents breaks (lunch, bathroom, & drink breaks are rare). I admire any med-surg nurse who has stuck around for a couple years or more...you're amazing! I'm hoping to learn how to strike the balance of work and life -- we constantly are asked to pick up extra shifts (in fact, it's mandatory)...so it's not easy to get a balance.
  2. 16 Eslyn 28 Apr
    I see burnout all around me in public service positions. The person on the other side of the counter/podium/phone assumes an air of superiority and/or entitlement and the person providing the service is bound by employer codes never to react, never to contradict in any way, to smile through the insults and demands, and so on. Even the kindest, most patient soul can get worn thin and eventually worn through from hours/days/years of this kind of treatment.
  3. 15 Bob 24 Apr
    I was a consultant in a highly technical industry. That industry has changed, as have many others over the years. There is less accountability and less quality awareness. I thought that I was "used to it" - that things had changed, and I needed to develop an approach that would provide me the satisfaction despite the changes. It became clear to me that this was not as easy as I thought. It began to take less and less guff or idiocy from clients for me to use my stock phrase "I don't think that I can help you." I walked out on assignments 3 times in a row, and finally decided that even though the industry had changed, I was unwilling to tolerate even the typical level of frustration that a client may cause. And so, my decision was to retire, despite the fact that I feared doing so. It has been the best decision I have made in a long time. My health, always good, has improved (no more mysterious stomach ailments and other physical signs of a frustrated existence). I now do all of the hobby things that I put off, and have developed some new interests as well. Somehow, I had to get over the old Judeo-Christian belief that if it hurt, it must be good for one in the end. Not so for me.
  4. 14 Nancy 09 Apr
    Just remember in the back of your head, that no matter how much you do and how much you think your bosses are satisfied with you, if walk out of work, one day and something happens to you that means that you have to be out of work for several months. You will be replaced and the business will continue just like you had never been there. So don't think being this way, is going to save or keep your job. No, it doesn't and it can ruin your health to a point that you won't be able to work again or to the point that you can't do the normal things at home that you have always done and have to have help doing some of the normal things you usually did. I know from personal experience
  5. 13 Kathi 08 Apr
    I saw myself in all of your examples. I gave my heart and soul to my job, worked 120 hours in 2 weeks. But it still wasn't enough, got FIRED!! Now what? Owner always said that we were all replaceable, guess she meant it!!
  6. 12 Jane 14 Mar
    I am a bank teller and all of the above applies. I love my job, although I don't earn what I feel I am worth. The responsibilities are very high, and considering what we do, I feel that we deserve a substantial pay increase. I love my customers and co workers. It's the people who decide that we can operate sufficiently on the lowest level of staff imaginable and expect more, when we give it our all. I'm seriously considering a change. I am burned out. It's not fair to me or my family to live this way anymore.
  7. 11 Mary 15 Feb
    I recognize myself in nearly every one of those descriptions above. I didn't particularly love my job, but I was dedicated to it and enjoyed working with the people. For the last year of my employment I found it hard to get to sleep then couldn't hear my alarms (count 'em, I had 6 set up) so was occasionally late to work. Usually no more than a minute or two, but a few times didn't wake up until after I was due to be at work. I tried everything I knew to correct that, but when my director got embarrassed for being corrected by HR for her management style in my presence, my doom was sealed. We often were given far more work than time, and sometimes even tools, to do it in. I did speak to my supervisor about it and ended up with even more work piled on. I got to a point where I did the best I could with what I had and decided I couldn't afford to care that it was never enough. Personal life? What's that? I had no personal life. My first day off was usually spent sleeping most of the day to recover from the week. The second day was spent doing anything that absolutely had to be done, but if it wasn't critical, it didn't happen. I stopped caring a long time ago. Getting fired may have been the best thing for my health. Unfortunately, due to my age and lack of a piece of paper that says I spent thousands of dollars for an education, most hiring managers don't care that I have decades of life and work experience that no degree can give. I have learned that if you are unemployed and available to start work immediately, you are not as appealing as someone who can be lured away from an existing job.
  8. 10 Dark Star 14 Feb
    1-4 pertains to me. Add feeling taken for granted, so they pay you less than the going rate for highly technical skills. They say they appreciate me, but they don't put their money where their mouth is. Or in other words,... I'm under appreciated. Harder and harder to be enthused under those conditions. A job I love, is turning into more of a chore. that's an attitude I don't like having,.... and that's a bad sign.
  9. 9 Itza 12 Feb
    I recognize burnout when I find myself smiling/laughing less and taking everything so seriously that I am easily annoyed for things that normally would not upset me. When I start setting back my alarm clock, drag my feet to the office and count down the minutes to leave.
  10. 8 Lesa 11 Feb
    When you start paying more attention to recruiters.
  11. 7 Milly 11 Feb
    And your boss left the ratings and comments on your last review completely blank and you got a 1% raise - and he blew off the review/goals discussions - after you worked night and day to get your assignments complete and kept everyone happy with you.
  12. 6 Milly 11 Feb
    Not being able to focus on work, spending more time trying to socialize because your job satisfaction is gone. Being on edge and not able to concentrate because you get continually interrupted by people who can't figure out how to do their own work but who are cheaper (H1b visa holders) and replaced the competent but more expensive Americans. All the while knowing that ONE mis-step and you're out the door next - and the ones laid off before you are still having a hard time getting jobs, and you just want to get the kids grown and our of the house while your parents have diagnosed dementia.
  13. 5 CJ 11 Feb
    #3 Co-Worker (exempt): Yea, boss, you've commented that I do a nice job which is reflected on my evaluations. I'd really like to expand my horizons both within my own position, and also show that i can do some higher level tasks as well. My challenge though is that I'm perpetually working 45-55 hrs/wk already just to get my regular duties done. Would like to talk to you about reducing my workload so that maybe some of this extra time that I already invest might be focused toward this end. Boss: You're right. I've been pleased with the quality and quantity of your work of late and in particular since we expanded our operations (which translated into more volume to process) and i find it commendable that you'd like to further yourself. Unforturnately, budget constraints prevent us from hiring another co-worker and I'm pretty hard pressed to re-assign some of your volume to anyone else because they're kind of in the same boat as you. I'm happy to give you an extra project or 2 that's outside your normal scope, but I'm afraid you'd need to absorb that into your own schedule. And by the way, before you ask, I won't be able to extend a bonus or temporary differential for the extra tiem as all the merit and discretionary compensation was removed from our dept budget. Bottom line - Burnout also exists when you do bust tail in the hopes of advancing, go above and beyond and demonstrate desire to advance, only to find out there's no carrot at the end of your stick.
  14. 4 JM 11 Feb
    This is surely a wonderful Topic to discuss. Great highlights. But I also go through this experience, which I'm not sure if it would fit into this Topic. There are times when you love your job too much, you want to give your life for it, sweat it out day-in day-out but find that your Employer does not reciprocate the same way. You are just taken for granted, as just another drop in the ocean. It hurts and actually burns you out not physically but mentally/psychologically . Not sure if others have felt this.
  15. 3 Elizabeth 11 Feb
    I have found in the past that the feeling of "dread" on the way to work and resisting the alarm clock that has been set for multiple wake up times in the morning are signs of burnout for me.
  16. 2 Lea 11 Feb
    1 and 3 pertains to me. I love my job, but because I'm so efficient I have found that I am doing everything. We are a small office of 3 staff members. Two days out of the week we only have two. I assist homeless veterans with reintegrating into the job force, so we have to keep a lot of notes and such on them and I have come up with ways to make sure that I stay on top of what I do and some how it has turned into policing all of it because my boss is hardly in the office and he has this mind set of, "Oh Tabatha will do it." I've already shown him what I do so he can incorporate into how he does his work, but he just does the in one ear and out the other and he does what he wants to do (which isn't much). I have told my program director, but since they have a close past nothing is really getting enforced. My boss may change for like 2 weeks and then he is back to the way he normally is. I love my job so I'm not going to up and quit, BUT if we don't get a new grant then that will be my cue to go else where because being absorbed into the company and then working under managers that helicopter, would be a nightmare.
  17. 1 Harold 10 Feb
    If a business makes their employees work alot of 13 and 1 weeks could that have alot of negative impact their home and work lives? I say it would


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