Spotting burnout early can be a real challenge. You might be so stressed that “spending time” on noticing the early symptoms is not possible. And even if you notice that something is gravely wrong in your life, denial might be the first answer. “It will get better… It is not so bad…It is just this week” – we can get really creative coming up with good reasons not to worry just yet.
Learning to spot burnout is the first crucial step in getting a handle on it. You can’t fight what you can’t see – learn to identify the warning signs when they first emerge.
Signs you might be suffering from burnout
Here are a few early signs that you might be experiencing psychological and physical burnout:
- Difficulty to wake up in the morning or get to sleep in the evening – any issues you experience around sleep you must take seriously. Sleep deprivation causes serious health issues and influences all parts of the body. Also falling asleep at unsuitable times/in unsuitable places is a symptom you cannot ignore.
- You find it hard to concentrate at work or at home. Do you try to focus on a priority just to experience your thoughts wandering and getting nothing done? You get started but stop doing your project and look for a distraction? Do you find yourself engaging in activities for a short time (maybe only minutes) then starting another thing and then another …. and not finishing any of them? We all have this distracted pattern from time to time but if you begin experience this every day, you need to pay attention!
- No motivation to get out of bed in the morning and losing your enthusiasm for things that would normally excite you. You forget how to believe in yourself. You lose hope. You experience dark depressive thoughts. All signs that you need to take some time to consider if you are just having a bad day or getting burned out.
- When you work out, you might notice symptoms of overtraining such as lethargy and achy joints that make it hard to train. Those small “aches and pains” become more prominent and hard to ignore. You might even decide to reduce your fitness activities as a result.
- Irritability with yourself and others. Do you find it increasingly difficult to deal with family, friends, and coworkers? Feel like screaming at your kids all the time? No tolerance with yourself when you make a mistake? Your closest family members complaining about how difficult it is to live with you? All warning signs of burning out.
- You procrastinate even more than normal – and spend precious time on mindless activities. Playing games on Facebook or surfing online is all fine unless those become the major activities you practice in your off time.
- Changes in your weight and appetite. A sudden loss of appetite and losing weight is a warning sign especially if before you had difficulty managing your weight. On the other hand you might turn to high calorie “distractions” and with the loss of interest in fitness as discussed above – you might well put on weight.
- You become ill all the time, you easily catch all colds and flus going around. And then it takes longer than normal to get back to your healthy self again. Skin problems can be the first signs of burning out! Also getting headaches, indigestion, IBS or Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) can be signs of burnout. Please take some time and talk to your GP about these health issues. The sooner you seek help, the quicker is your recovery.
Not everybody experiences all the same symptoms, of course. You won’t necessarily find that all of the above apply in your particular case. Nevertheless, these are some of the biggest signs of burnout and some of the things you are most likely to notice if you are experiencing it.