10 Signs You’re Headed for Burnout and How to Prevent It

According to CNBC, an estimated $125 bn to $190 bn in health care spending goes to treating burnout-related health issues each year. Working too hard doesn’t necessarily lead to burnout—contrary to popular belief. There are more factors at play. And, we cannot always predict burnout. But, knowing what to be on the lookout for will allow you to take action on time.


10 Signs You’re Headed for a Burnout

  • Stress-related health problems
  • Perpetual exhaustion
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Inability to stop thinking about work
  • Poor job performance
  • Unhealthy lifestyle choices
  • Persistent cynicism at work
  • Increased irritability at home or work
  • Loss of enjoyment in daily activities
  • Frequent absence from work

Work With Purpose

If you are working just to earn a paycheck, it can spell danger. To keep stress at bay and stay motivated, try to rediscover your purpose. Consider the deeper impact of your work.


How does your job make people’s lives better? What can you do to add more meaning to your everyday tasks? The PERMA model can help you answer these questions. This well-being theory consists of five elements:


  • Positive Emotions
  • Engagement
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Accomplishments


If your current job doesn’t promote any of these elements in your life, a role or career change may be your best option. A career change is a big and challenging step, but developing a career strategy or hiring a career coach may help ease the transition and improve your job satisfaction long-term.


Log Off

If the job is great, but the circumstances are not, there’s still plenty you can do. For starters, stop taking your work home with you. Kicking this habit isn’t always easy, so start with small steps:


  • Use separate email clients for personal email and work email. For instance, you can use Gmail for work, and your native mail client for personal use. You’d want to avoid inadvertently seeing work emails on weekends while you’re checking out newsletters.

  • Move Slack and your work email client off your home screen. And, move them somewhere where they won’t be easy to access. If they are just a few clicks away, you may continue checking them out of habit. The difference between two clicks and five clicks can be huge.

  • If you have to work in your off-hours, don’t email anyone unless it’s urgent. Wait for your coworkers to get back online. Every email creates more work for everyone. Email also makes people less productive. Sending, reading, and replying to emails can take a lot of time, so only do it during office hours.


You don’t want to contribute to a workplace culture where no one ever tunes out. You’ll do everyone a favour by scheduling your emails.


If your colleagues are used to you being hyper-available, let them know you want to reset your work-life balance. You can expect your colleagues to adjust their expectations only if you are explicit about the change.


Learn to Manage Stress

We all experience stress at some level. You can’t always avoid it, but you can learn to manage it. There are a few methods you can use to cope with stress.


Meditation, relaxation techniques, and deep breathing are just some of them. But, managing the way you think may be the most effective one. For starters, write down what routinely causes you stress in a stress diary.


Once you fill a few pages, analyse them. Assess the situations that cause you stress. What can you change about them? When you pinpoint the cause, you’ll have something to work with. It will help you learn how to manage such situations.

Stop Saying Yes to Everything

Setting boundaries at work may be much easier than you think. Stop saying yes to everything. Sometimes, that’s all it takes! Others can’t always tell whether you’re stretched too thin or not, so your manager may think you’ll tell them if you are overwhelmed with work.


You don’t have to straight-out say no. If there’s too much food on your plate, talk with your manager about how you can prioritise. For instance, if you think something will be too much, you can say, “I can do this, but we’ll have to delay the other two tasks then. Should we talk about how to prioritise these?” You can also try “I can’t have this by Thursday, but I can do it by next Tuesday.”


In some cases, you may need to be more explicit. Tell your boss you’d like to talk about how to best structure your time. It’s always good to have a couple of potential solutions in mind when starting such conversations.


Phrases like, “I don’t think I’m doing my best-quality work” or “I am not sure that I’ve been doing it well since I’ve been doing a lot” can be quite effective. For pushy colleagues, phrases like, “Sorry, I can’t help! I’ve got to focus on X for now,” should do the trick.



Burnout doesn’t go away on its own. If you do nothing about it, don’t assume everything will be better once the task is done or once the week is over. Defeating burnout requires action on your side.



Michael has been working in marketing for almost a decade and has worked with a huge range of clients, which has made him knowledgeable on many different subjects. He has recently rediscovered a passion for writing and hopes to make it a daily habit. You can read more of Michael's work at Qeedle.


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