Herbert Freudenberger, an American psychologist, coined the term “burnout” in the 1970s. Initially, it was used to relate to the consequences of severe stress in “helping” professions, i.e., doctors and nurses. However, it has become a global phenomenon nowadays, affecting people associated with almost all walks of life. According to a report published by O.C.Tanner, about 40% of employees experience burnout at moderate to severe levels. The same report also reveals that 95% of HR leaders see burnout behind one-half of their annual workforce turnover. So, it’s about time we introduce you to various other aspects of burnout.

What is burnout?

When excessive and prolonged stress leads you to a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion, the phenomenon is referred to as burnout. It takes you over when you feel emotionally drained and overwhelmed persistently for some time. So, you’re unable to meet constantly increasing demands. As you continually lag your deadlines, your interest and motivation for work start to dwindle.

Productivity is one of the first things burnout affects, sapping your energy and making you feel helpless, cynical, and vulnerable. Ultimately, you think you’ve nothing more to offer.

The worst part is that the adverse effects of burnout aren’t confined to your office or workplace only. They creep up into every area of your life, jeopardizing your personal and social life as well. Many people fail to realize that the adverse effects of burnout also extend to your health, compromising your immune system. And it makes you increasingly vulnerable to colds, flu, and other diseases.

That’s why it’s so imperative to take burnout so seriously, dealing with it the right way, and this is what this write-up is all about.

What are the signs of burnout?

Burnout is not something that happens overnight. It’s a gradual process, building up from subtle signs and symptoms initially, and getting worse as time goes by. It’s vital to treat early symptoms as red flags for something worse, which must be addressed immediately. If you succeed in responding to these initial symptoms timely and aptly, your odds of preventing a major breakdown go significantly high. You may segregate the signs and symptoms of burnout as:

Physical signs and symptoms of burnout

  • Lots of headaches and muscular pains
  • Lowered appetite
  • Disturbed sleep routine
  • Feeling tiresome and weary all the time

Emotional signs and symptoms of burnout

  • Feelings of loneliness and detachment
  • Loss of motivation
  • Lowered sense of accomplishment and satisfaction
  • High self-doubt and skepticism

Behavioral signs and symptoms of burnout

  • Social isolation and cocooning
  • Looking for scapegoats to vent frustration
  • Increased consumption of food, drugs, and alcohol
  • Increased procrastination and undue delaying in tasks
  • Withdrawing from responsibilities

What are the dangers of having untreated burnout?

Burnouts can affect you physically, mentally, socially, and behaviorally in countless ways. Some of the consequences may include:

  • Exhaustion
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Frequent illnesses
  • A negative outlook on everything
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches and body pains

How to prevent burnout?

Burnout is undoubtedly one thing that deserves the “prevention is better than cure” approach. It’s not like no one has ever been able to recover from burnout, but it takes a lot – of everything. From time and effort to resolve and resilience! So, let’s have a look at you can prevent burnout from ever disturbing your life.

Manage your workload

When your workload and capacity to perform are in balance, you’re able to do all the work in time and still find time for everything else. From rest and recovery to professional growth and development. So, you need to assess how are you handling the following activities:

Work planning: Are you aware of what work is coming your way? What will be your next week’s assignment? Do you have a plan ready that you can share with others?

Task delegation: You need to realize that delegating tasks to others doesn’t mean you’re exploiting them. But make sure you’re doing it rightly.

Embracing imperfection: The sooner you believe perfection to be an illusion, the better you’ll be in steering away from a menace that can potentially turn your life upside down. So, try embracing “good enough” rather than “perfect” if you want to continue working without breaking up.

Take back the control

Sometimes it’s not you. Others around you might also have a role to play in your work getting over you. Does your boss often call you in late hours? Are you expected to reply to emails even after dinner? Are you sure you need more resources and autonomy in taking care of the tasks assigned to you? It’s about time you stand up for yourself and take the control back into your hands. Come up with a timetable and a list of resources you need before all the negatives push you to the wall. It will boost your confidence and autonomy and help you manage work in a better way.

Work on your communal ties

Nurture the support out of your community. While in most cases, you don’t have the liberty to choose who you work with, you can invest time and energy to strengthen those bonds. When you know your team has your back, your chances of getting stressed out due to job-related tasks slash significantly.

Take mental breaks

Ironically, taking a break has somehow become one of the most challenging things nowadays. More so when it’s about taking mental breaks. Society is busy turning exceptions into norms, and the majority is complying blindly. Checking emails waiting for your coffee or during lunch break is more of a corporate culture now, just like typing notes on your commute to work. While it seems essential in striving for the best in your work, it turns into a mental and physical drag soon. You start hating your job without even knowing about it. And the process of your mental breakdown commences even before you hit your physical limit. So, take a break often. Sit back, relax, and indulge in activities that keep the spark alive in you.

How to recover from burnout?

Nothing is impossible. Not even recovering from burnout, though it needs a lot of time, effort, dedication, and commitment. If you have no idea how, follow the tips below.

Identify the culprits

Understanding the method behind the madness is the very first thing to do if you want to initiate the recovery process. Make a list of what you do throughout the day and mark the activities you think are stressing you out. Now segregate the ones beyond your control and stop worrying about them (for a while, at least). Pick one you think can straighten out with the least amount of time and effort from you and start working on it. Work your way up from there, one step at a time and one stressor at a time. One of the first things you’ll get from this small remedial action is the sense of getting some control back, giving you the motivation to fight your way out of burnout.

Set your boundaries

Like everything, the contemporary lifestyle comes with a set of drawbacks as well. And one of them is the blurring boundaries between work and home. It can push you to the brink of a breakdown unless you do something about it. So, make sure you set your boundaries with certainty, and you choose to have a start time and stop that you follow strictly. Stop bringing work to home, or home to work, for that matter, and start finding your way back to normalcy after a burnout.

Resort to nature

If work is the first thing that pushed you to burnout, you cannot expect a recovery if you’re stuck into it. Take a break, more of a vacation if you may, and let your system reboot. A recent report in nature.com studied about 20,000 individuals to conclude that spending as little as 120 minutes a week out in nature can significantly improve your health and wellbeing. And the results can even be more impactful if you cut out your tech consumption while doing so. You can start as small as camping over the weekend and feel the positive impact before continuing with it. The fact of the matter is that nothing beats nature in healing. So, you gotta give it a try.

Nurture on the power of love and care

Remember, you don’t have to go through this alone. Get back to your family and friends, and you’ll be amazed by the help, support, and care you get. Lean on their shoulders, and let their love and energy heal yours. You can do so even if you’re far from them, thanks to so many calling apps and other options available nowadays.

Re-evaluate your priorities

Suffering from burnout indicates that something in your life is not working right for you. Consider this as an opportunity to contemplate your hopes, goals, and dreams. Is there something vital that you’re neglecting? It’s about time you rediscover what triggers you the right way, what makes you truly happy, and what’s the best way to realign your life around it.

Improve your diet

Your dietary intake can significantly impact your energy levels and mood throughout the day. Make sure you’re eating and drinking right. Minimize your intake of sugar and refined carbs. Cut down on foods that can affect your mood adversely, i.e., unhealthy fats, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and chemically treated foods.

Get some exercise and rest

Indulging in healthy physical activities regularly is known to help you cope up better with stress. On top, it enables you to take your mind off work. Complement healthy physical activities with ample rest and sleep, especially when you want your body and mind to recover from stress and breakdown.


Confronting burnout isn’t an easy task, more so when it’s already taken a toll on you physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially, severely affecting your quality of life. In addition to working on the tips mentioned above, you better consider professional help at your earliest. A therapist or doctor can be the best person in helping you identify the causes and implications of burnout, guiding you on how to get over it and get back to your everyday life.