15 Tell-Tale Signs You’re Suffering from Job Burnout

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Illustration of a sad woman with her hands placed over her head while sitting at a desk

Does going to work feel like you’re trudging through cement? Do you arrive at your job desperate for the day to be over?

If you find yourself dreading your job with overwhelming feelings of anxiety or sadness, you may be suffering from more than just regular work-related stress. You’re probably experiencing burnout.

The World Health Organization defines burnout as a ‘syndrome conceptuali[s]ed as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed’. In other words, it doesn’t just happen once or twice; burnout goes on for a long period of time, often resulting in physical and emotional exhaustion and decreased effectiveness at work.

So, if you’re wondering if what you’re feeling is just another bad day or full-fledged burnout, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve gathered a list of signs and symptoms you may be experiencing burnout at the workplace.

1. You’re Always Tired

If you feel like you’re constantly tired and have no energy to work, chances are you’re experiencing burnout.

No amount of sleep or downtime can shake off that mental or physical exhaustion, and the fatigue always seems to take its toll on your productivity levels. You might even feel run-down outside work when spending time with friends and family.

2. You Feel Anxious

When work life gets demanding, it can lead to feelings of tension, worry and apprehension. So much so that these feelings start affecting your ability to focus, they impact your health and disturb your personal life.

Whether it’s due to a tight deadline or a difficult project, anxiety can creep in at work and escalate to feelings of burnout.

3. You Suffer from Insomnia

When you’re overwhelmed with thoughts about work, it can lead to stress, anxiety and, eventually, insomnia.

Burnout can result in having trouble in getting to sleep, no matter how exhausted you are.

Sleep disturbances can end up having a bad effect on your job performance the next day due to a lack of energy and motivation.

4. You Can’t Concentrate

With burnout comes a lack of concentration.

You may struggle to get things done due to a loss of energy or emotional investment. It may get difficult to focus on tasks, and you may become forgetful and have a hard time remembering things.

5. You’re Eating More or Less

According to Mayo Clinic, people stress-eat ‘as a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions’.

This is very much the case for those suffering from burnout – when stressed, they crave more comfort food.

It’s also common to have a lack of appetite when feeling anxious or overwhelmed from work. Altered eating habits are often a tell-tale sign of burnout.

6. You’re Emotional

If you find yourself getting easily sad or angry, it’s likely you’re suffering from burnout.

When work-related issues take a toll on you, you might get easily frustrated and irritated over miniscule things. You might always suffer from bad moods and take out your anger on others.

Everyone has negative emotions, but it’s important to notice when they become overwhelming for you.

7. You Lack Enthusiasm

If the things you once cared about no longer excite you, you could be experiencing burnout.

When you’re exhausted and overworked, it’s common to feel like nothing interests or satisfies you anymore. You may not have the motivation for a new project at work, or you simply don’t enjoy scratching up that report anymore.


8. You’re Not as Productive as You Once Were

Whether it’s a lack of sleep, constant stress or long hours, symptoms of burnout will impact your productivity at work.

You may not care about the quality of your work anymore; simple tasks like sending an email might stress you, or you might not want to engage in meetings.

When burnout has reached its peak, your productivity levels diminish, which eventually leads to incomplete jobs, mistakes and a never-ending to-do list.

9. You’re Performing Badly

As mentioned above, a lack of productivity will lead to failures and mistakes at work.

Job burnout will have negative effects on your job performance simply because you don’t care enough to succeed anymore or because you’re worn out.

If you find that you’re missing deadlines or if others keep finding errors in your work, consider yourself at the brink of burnout.

10. You Isolate and Detach Yourself from Others

Are you so sick of work that you prefer to isolate yourself from the team? Feeling so down and exhausted that you shut yourself off from your spouse and kids?

If you answered ‘yes’, burnout has got the best of you.

When you’re washed out from your job, you might have no energy for fun things and prefer to be alone. You might also put barriers between yourself and colleagues due to stress and anxiety.

11. You Have Health Problems

Always taking time off work and sending in a sick day email?

Stressing too much can have a negative effect on your health. If you’re suffering from burnout, you may notice that you’re getting sick more often or have ongoing chest pains or headaches.

In fact, researchers claim that burnout can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease as much as smoking or an unhealthy BMI does.

Other health problems associated with burnout include:

  • Increased bouts of colds/flu
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Stomach issues

12. You’re Always Cynical

When you’re overly stressed, it’s common to start ‘hating’ everything and everyone around you.

These negative and cynical thoughts can make you think everyone’s out to get you and lose trust in coworkers and managers. You may feel constant anger and disappointment towards people you work with for no apparent reason.

13. You Have Feelings of Dread

It’s normal to dread work every once in a while.

A key sign of employee burnout, however, is when you notice this happening every weeknight. Work is so terrible that you get goosebumps thinking about it on Sunday night. You might also be filled with fear and dread when you wake up every morning.

14. You Don’t Take Care of Yourself

When stress and anxiety consume you, it’s easy to neglect your health and wellbeing. You may start to rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms like:

  • Eating too much or too little
  • Consuming too much junk food
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Smoking too much
  • Drinking too much coffee
  • Relying on narcotics

15. You Feel Worthless

Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness are typical signs of burnout.

Perhaps you put yourself down a lot or you no longer care for your achievements. You may feel that your contributions are irrelevant and that your boss doesn’t care for you.

These feelings of self-doubt can drain and deplete you to the point where you don’t want to even work anymore.

Bear in mind that there’s a fine line between burnout and depression - according to Mayo Clinic, some of your burnout symptoms can also be related to depression. If you feel that is the case, consider talking to a doctor or getting treatment from a mental health provider.

If you’re experiencing any of these job burnout signs, it’s time you did something to treat it. Whether it’s by reducing your working hours, taking a holiday or changing your attitude, there are ways to overcome work burnout.

Identifying and then addressing burnout is the best way to avoid going off the rails completely.

Have you ever experienced job burnout? What other signs do you think it’s important to look out for? Let us know in the comments section below!