Am I experiencing burnout?

Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion often caused by prolonged and excessive stress. It is most often connected with work or other demanding responsibilities. 


What is burnout?

Burnout is characterised by a sense of overwhelm, detachment, cynicism and reduced effectiveness in our personal and professional lives and can impact various aspects of a person’s well-being leading to decreased motivation, loss of productivity, and overall lack of satisfaction in life.

Burnout is not just a result of long working hours or excessive pressure but can also stem from a lack of control over our workload, insufficient support, unclear job expectations, and conflicting values or goals. It can affect anyone, regardless of their occupation or level of responsibility.

Signs and symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of burnout include:

  • Emotional exhaustion - feeling drained, depleted, and overwhelmed by emotions leading to a reduced ability to cope with any stressors involved in tasks and responsibilities. 
  • De-personalisation - developing negative or cynical attitudes towards the work at hand or the people around us, often leading to a sense of detachment and distance.
  • Reduced personal accomplishment - feeling like our efforts are not making a difference or experiencing a decline in self-belief and productivity. 
  • Physical symptoms - burnout can also manifest physically with symptoms such as headaches, sleep disturbance, fatigue, and other health issues.

Overcoming burnout

Overcoming burnout requires acknowledging its presence and taking appropriate steps to cope with and manage stress. This might involve seeking professional help, making lifestyle changes, setting boundaries, prioritising self-care, and finding ways to reconnect with personal passions and interests outside of our responsibilities.

Employers also play a crucial role in preventing burnout by fostering a positive working environment, promoting work-life balance, and offering support and resources for employees facing high levels of stress. 

Managing burnout is essential for maintaining our physical and mental well-being. Here are some strategies to help you cope with (and prevent) burnout:

  • Recognise the signs - be aware of the early signs of burnout such as chronic fatigue, decreased motivation, irritability, and feelings of detachment. Acknowledging the problem is the first step to managing it effectively.
  • Self-care - prioritise self-care activities that nurture your physical and emotional health. This includes getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise, and setting aside time for hobbies and relaxation.
  • Set boundaries - learn to say no when you’re overwhelmed with tasks or responsibilities. Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life and avoid taking on more than you can handle.
  • Time management - organise your time effectively and prioritise tasks. Research time management techniques such as the Pomodoro technique to work in focused bursts with short breaks in between which can increase productivity and reduce the risk of burnout.
  • Seek social support - talk to friends, family or colleagues about your feelings and experiences. Sometimes sharing your thoughts with others can provide valuable perspective and emotional support.
  • Practice mindfulness - engage in mindfulness activities such as meditation or deep breathing exercises to reduce stress and increase self-awareness.
  • Take breaks - incorporate regular breaks throughout your day, even if they’re short. Step away from your workspace, go for a walk, or do something enjoyable to recharge your mind.
  • Find meaning in your work - remind yourself of the bigger picture and the purpose behind what you do. Connecting with the significance of your work can provide motivation during challenging times.
  • Avoid perfectionism - accept that nobody is perfect and it’s okay to make mistakes. Set realistic goals and focus on progress rather than aiming for absolute perfection.
  • Disconnect from technology - give yourself time to unplug from e-mails, social media, and other digital distractions. Constant connectivity can contribute to burnout so take regular breaks from screens.
  • Re-evaluate priorities - reflect on your values and long-term goals. Make sure your current pursuits align with your aspirations and make adjustments if needed.
  • Seek professional help - if burnout is severely impacting your well-being and daily functioning, consider seeking help from a mental health professional. Counselling and other forms of therapy can provide valuable support, coping skills, and a space to re-evaluate and make changes where needed.

Remember, managing burnout is a continuous process that should be considered in your day-to-day life, and it is OK to ask for help at any point in that process. Taking care of yourself is essential if you are to perform at your best and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

And please don’t hesitate to reach out to me for help if you are struggling to manage. You can visit my profile and make contact today by telephone or e-mail and I’ll get right back to you to get you booked in and get started on getting you back on track (check your junk mail just in case my response ends up in there). 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

Share this article with a friend
Manchester, Greater Manchester, M27 8UW
Written by Tracy McCadden, Counsellor & Supervisor BSc(Hons) MBACP
Manchester, Greater Manchester, M27 8UW

I am qualified to BSc (hons) level in Psychology and Diploma level in Counselling. I also have qualifications in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Hypno-Psychotherapy, and Fieldwork Supervision as well as a wealth of additional training, and run a successful private therapy practice welcoming clients that are committed to making a change for the better.

Show comments

Find a therapist dealing with Burnout

All therapists are verified professionals

All therapists are verified professionals