How Does Burnout Feel?

published on 16 May 2023

In today's fast-paced, high-stress world, the term 'burnout' is increasingly becoming a part of our everyday language. But what does burnout truly feel like? How does it differ from everyday stress or tiredness? Burnout, a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged and excessive stress, is more than just a buzzword. It's a serious condition that can have significant impacts on an individual's daily life and overall well-being. Recognizing the symptoms of burnout is the first step towards understanding and managing it. Let's delve deeper into how burnout feels, its key symptoms, and the ways it can affect daily life.

How Does Burnout Feel? Key Symptoms and Signs

The feeling of burnout is not simply one of exhaustion. Instead, it is a complex mix of symptoms that often creep up on us subtly over time. Here are some of the key symptoms and signs:

Emotional Symptoms: Burnout can cause feelings of emotional exhaustion, leading to a sense of dread about the day ahead. You might feel detached, with a sense of disillusionment about your work or personal life. Feelings of cynicism, frustration, and even hopelessness are common. You might also find that you're more irritable than usual, with emotional responses that seem out of proportion to the situation at hand.

Physical Symptoms: Burnout doesn't just affect you emotionally. It can lead to physical symptoms such as chronic fatigue, sleep disturbances, headaches, and gastrointestinal problems. Your immune system may be weakened, leading to frequent colds or infections. You might also notice a change in appetite or unexplained muscle pain.

Behavioral Symptoms: When it comes to behavior, burnout can lead to changes in your daily routines. You may struggle with concentration, leading to decreased productivity and, in turn, feelings of inadequacy. Procrastination might become a norm, and tasks that once were easy can seem insurmountable. You may also withdraw from responsibilities or isolate from friends and family.

The Impact on Daily Life

The symptoms of burnout don't exist in a vacuum. They can significantly affect your day-to-day life, impacting everything from your work performance to your relationships.

At work, burnout can manifest as a lack of motivation, decreased productivity, and a reduced sense of accomplishment. You may find it hard to concentrate or make decisions, leading to mistakes or missed deadlines. Your relationships might suffer too, as burnout can lead to social withdrawal and decreased patience with others.

On a personal level, burnout can lead to neglect of self-care. You may find yourself skipping meals, not exercising, or neglecting your hobbies. This, in turn, can exacerbate the physical symptoms of burnout, creating a vicious cycle that can be hard to break.


Understanding the feeling of burnout, recognizing its symptoms, and acknowledging its impact on daily life are the first steps towards addressing this challenging condition. Burnout is more than just being 'very tired' - it's a serious state of chronic stress that requires attention and care. If you're experiencing symptoms of burnout, remember, it's okay to reach out for help. You're not alone, and there are resources and strategies available to help you navigate this difficult journey. Above all, remember to take care of yourself. Your well-being is important, and acknowledging that is the first step towards recovery.

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