Burnout Is a Real Thing; Here’s How to Spot It

By Ed Reynolds | Tuesday 24th July, 2018

When we first break out into the working world, we are told to say yes to everything. Yes to your boss’s deadlines; yes to your colleague asking you to stay late to help them out; yes to after-work drinks for the third night in a row. It’s commonly thought that those who don’t say yes won’t progress because they come across as work-shy, disagreeable and uncooperative.

But this is bullshit.

Often when a company is low on staff and budgets get cut, the pressures and demands on staff increases. Or, when you’re in uni and you’re studying everyday, working your part-time job and still maintaining your social life (priorities, eh) you start to tire out real quickly. In fact, you might actually be experiencing burnout.

Burnout is defined as a ‘state of chronic stress’ that leads to ‘physical and emotional exhaustion… cynicism and detachment… and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.’

It’s not something you wake up with one day, it happens over time, progressively building up until you’re in a pretty bad place mentally and physically. There are plenty of tell-tale signs that your body is under too much pressure. There are the physical; chronic fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, dizziness, stomach problems, chest pains, impaired concentration. And then there are the mental symptoms; depression, anxiety, pessimism, detachment and isolation, irritability and poor performance.


If you suspect you might be experiencing burnout, then check out our tips below to overcome it and prevent it:

Care about self-care

There was a time when people thought self-care was all pedicures and cucumber on the eyes. Whilst there is nothing wrong with these activities, self-care runs much deeper than that. It’s about knowing what your body needs, reading the queues when it is telling you something isn’t right and making a conscious, daily effort to take care of yourself. From drinking more water to having a day in front of the tv, learn what your body needs to feel relaxed and at its best and schedule time to work on it.

Have a legit work-life balance

We’re told to leave our personal lives at the door when we come to work, but by the same token, you should leave work in work. So when you go home, switch off from the daily grind and do something that’s actually enjoyable (like not bitching to your housemate about work because that’s not fun for anyone). It might feel like if you stop doing work when you get home, you’ll fall behind, but you won’t. In many ways, you’ll probably be way more productive.

Learn to say no

‘Sorry, I don’t have the capacity to take on extra work at the moment’ - wow you just said no without even using the word 'no'.

The Office

Go deep with sleep

If you sleep less, then that’s more hours in the day to study or work… yeah... no sorry, that’s bullshit. You need sleep for efficient cognitive function and being well-rested means the work you do is probably better and done so with less effort. If stress is disrupting your sleep, turn your phone and laptop off about an hour before you plan to sleep so your mind can relax. And stop drinking so much coffee.


“I completely regret that workout I just did,” said no one ever. Exercise is great for the body, the mind and it will help you de-stress. It’s also great because for those few minutes you’re not by your phone or laptop, no one can ask you to do anything and you can’t be reminded of all the stuff you need to do. So, it’s a win-win.

Speak up

If you do feel snowed under, by work or uni, then tell someone. It’s not a sign of weakness to admit you’re struggling. Tell your manager who might be able to take some work off you or tell a tutor who might be able to suggest a more efficient way of managing your studying.

Photo credits: Fiveprime