While stress at work is sometimes unavoidable, if left unchecked, it can quickly lead to job burnout. Unfortunately, it’s common for people to suffer from job stress: a global survey revealed 77% of working Australians suffered from career burnout in 2020.

Since it’s experienced at such a personal and individual level, suffering from job burnout can mean different things to different people and it affects every professional, regardless of their career achievements, seniority and tenure.

Above all else, it’s crucial for you to look after yourself. This is why it’s important to recognise the signs of burnout and address them as soon as you can.

Here are nine common signs of burnout and advice on how to start turning your situation around.

1. Exhaustion

You may suffer from exhaustion due to insomnia. Or you may sleep well at home but then feel exhausted during the day. Both are signs that you are suffering from burnout.

Pushing yourself to the limit when you’re tired won’t help your health. Tiredness can cause simple mistakes, lack of concentration and mood swings. If you are suffering from insomnia, get in touch with your doctor and let your superiors know you are struggling. If you need to, take some time off to catch up on sleep, and use this time to fully unplug from work and relax.

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2. Difficulty concentrating

Feeling disconnected – not distracted – from your work is a sign you are suffering from job stress. Particularly if your mind is constantly attempting to process several thoughts at once, you are likely unable to focus on the task at hand.

It can be difficult to boost your concentration levels at work and get back into your day-to-day. However, if you take regular breaks and get involved with a project that excites you, then you may begin to see your concentration and motivation levels increase. It may also be a matter of stepping back from certain projects and delegate your role to another colleague, or moving deadlines so that your workload is spaced out and more manageable.

3. Lack of balance

Giving in to bad habits you wouldn’t normally indulge in is a sign that you need to take a moment. Overindulging in food, drinking and even smoking, can mean your mind is attempting to find respite in activities that allow you time to relax. However, after giving in to this for a while, it will eventually be detrimental to both your mental and physical health.

Try getting outdoors, even if it’s just a walk, or replacing work drinks with other social activities. 

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4. Avoiding social situations

Cutting yourself off from friends and family is a symptom of anxiety, stress and depression. This can make you feel even more isolated, sending you into a vicious cycle.

Keeping in contact with your friends and family is a way to feel relaxed and happy when you are feeling low about work. Speak openly with those closest to you, as they can help you to gain an alternative perspective on any issues that you are facing and encourage you to get additional help if necessary.

5. Feelings of inadequacy

Impostor syndrome is normal to a certain extent but it can be extremely detrimental at a certain point. Once you have reached the point of feeling like you can’t do your job anymore, or that you are unsuitable for your role, it is difficult to boost your morale.

Feeling like you are inadequate in your position is a sign you are suffering from burnout. Speaking to your boss, friends, and family about your feelings can help you to dispel them. You might also seek help via your workplace’s employee assistance programs, or EAP, often a confidential counselling service, as well as other services.

6. Having a short fuse

If you are having uncharacteristic bursts of anger, privately crying at work or at home, or even having unnecessary arguments with your friends and family, then you could be suffering from burnout. Emotional outbursts are a sign that you need to take a break and prioritise your health above all else.

Taking some leave from work can help calm your nerves and put things into perspective. However, if this doesn’t help, it’s worth contacting a therapist or doctor to talk through your thoughts and feelings. And remember there’s no shame in getting additional help.

7. Poor job performance

Even the most accomplished and well-organised professionals can reach the point of burnout without the right coping tools for stress at work. 

If you notice your performance at work slipping, or your manager or colleagues have made a comment to that effect, it could be a sign you need to switch off and recuperate for a while to get back to your usual, high-performing self.

8. Lack of motivation

When you’re finding it difficult to get small tasks done or lack the motivation to do your day-to-day work, there’s a good chance you’re suffering from job burnout. 

Keep in mind this isn’t restricted to a lack of motivation at work – you might also be finding it hard to get things done in your personal life, or even just to get up in the morning.

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9. Physical illness

Stress can do serious damage to our bodies. It’s important to look after your physical health above everything else. If you find you’ve been off work due to illnesses such as the flu, headaches, colds, dizziness, and sickness then this could be due to burnout.

If you’re experiencing stress at work and it’s beginning to affect your health, be sure to take the time you need to recover. Visit your doctor to get a diagnosis and keep your manager and direct reports in the loop with your health conditions.

If you’re looking for a new work opportunity that provides improved work-life balance, get in touch with one of our specialist recruitment consultants who can help you find your perfect role.

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