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5 Signs You’re on the Verge of Burnout

Burnout is what it sounds like: you burn out. The fire that’s inside you—that spark of life—goes out. Too many stressors come your way. You’re flooded with stress, until your internal floodgates can’t hold back the onslaught anymore and the spark in you is submerged. This doesn’t happen overnight. The stress has to pile up and be constant before it can lead to any damage. You’ll know you’re moving toward burnout if you can recognize the signs, though. Then you may be able to intervene before it’s too late. Here are the signs of oncoming burnout you should keep an eye on.

  1. Your Performance Is Slipping

Most of the time, it’s work that leads to burnout. That doesn’t have to mean a paying job where you’re overworked. You could be getting burnt out from social obligations, school, volunteering, or simply having too much on your metaphorical plate. All that it takes to burn out is getting the impression you’re being overworked, even if the reality is that you’re not clocking in 60 hours a week. Feeling exploited is sure to put the fire inside you out, prompting you to ask yourself, “What am I even doing here?” You could have initially been excited about an opportunity or ready to fulfill your duty, but soon discovered nothing was what you bargained for, and therefore your motivation plummets. You stop caring, which leads to you dragging your feet and only doing enough to, let’s say, avoid the dire consequences of being financially undermined.

  1. Everything Is Annoying and Exhausting You

You used to like the sound of your life, or at least you could tolerate it. Now, however, you want to rip your hair out when someone in your presence has the gall to seem at peace. The ding of an incoming email has you gnashing your teeth. You can’t say “good morning” because you know it’s a lie—there is no such thing as a good morning nowadays; it’s just a morning. You can tell you’re burning out when life has stopped feeling enjoyable and started irritating you every which way. You’re not bogged down by sadness and fear, like you would be if you were developing a mood disorder, but you feel fed up and spent. Your body craves rest, yet your mind suspects rest is for everyone except you. You, personally, have too much to get done—and you have some sort of social obligation to be on top of your game, even when you feel like screaming. 

  1. You’re Not Yourself

You’re not thinking clearly. You once felt pretty sharp, able to solve complex problems at lightning speed, but now you feel slow and dull. You used to be the person who carried every conversation, but now all you can do is sit in silence. You start forgetting where you put things. You never want to leave the house anymore. The hobbies you once loved look boring now. When you stop feeling like the person you always used to be and instead start transforming into a wisp of your former self, that’s an unmistakable sign you’re burning out. The constant stream of stress associated with burnout will sap your energy, which leads to cognitive issues, resulting in a general detachment from your sense of self. You can’t remember much, let alone who you were as a person before life became too stressful.  

  1. Your Bed Is Your Best Friend and Biggest Enemy

You know you need to fall asleep and get some rest, but you can’t make it happen. Your mind won’t shut off and quiet down. You can’t stop thinking about what tasks need to be done, what wasn’t done, what went wrong at work, who let you down. You might be depleted, and yet it still takes you forever to drift off and you’re wondering why you even bothered heading to bed. You want to pull off the covers and do something you’ve been putting off, but you’re too tired to move. Then the alarm suddenly goes off and you’re hitting snooze a billion times, struggling to get out of the bed you hated a few hours ago. When you’re burning out, all you want to do is get some good quality sleep, but that seems like a farfetched fantasy. You can’t sleep or resent your body for needing rest when there’s so much work to be done. Nevertheless, after you’ve finally fallen asleep and morning comes shortly after, you don’t want your slumber to end.

  1. You’ve Stopped Taking Care of Yourself

You’re in a vicious cycle. You’re exhausted because you’re not taking care of yourself, but you’re not capable of taking care of yourself because you’re too tired. You’re swapping out healthy eating, exercise, and participation in activities that nourish your mind like reading, spirituality, watching longform content, and hobbies. Instead, you’re choosing excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption to get you through the days, scrolling social media endlessly, eating prepackaged foods, craving sugary snacks, refusing to cook for yourself, either not eating enough or eating too much, and staying active sounds so dreadful you won’t even dare try. Perhaps you’re also finding it a challenge to even shower, brush your teeth, fix your hair, and go through a skincare routine. Maybe the only way to find rest is by using sleeping pills. If taking care of yourself sounds like the most boring and draining thing ever, you’re most likely close to burning out.

Luke Miles | Contributing Writer

Spring 2024

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