Are You Under Too Much Stress? 10 Signs That You Are Burning Out.
Person stands and looks into the distance thinking about their symptoms of burnout.

Are You Under Too Much Stress? 10 Signs That You Are Burning Out.

by Oct 20, 2017Mental Health8 comments

In our last post we talked about how self care can help you when you are feeling burned out and exhausted. After posting this, my readers messaged me asking some great questions!

“How do I know if I am feeling burned out, or if I am just feeling tired?”

“What are the symptoms of burnout, I am not sure I understand what this is?”

“I’m worried that I am starting to get burned out, but don’t know if it is really that serious.”

To answer these questions, I did the research for you!

Burnout is defined as a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. One author described the difference between feeling tired and being burned out: 

‘There is a difference between feeling tired because you put in a hard day’s work and feeling fatigued in every cell of your being.

Most of us have experienced a long day’s work and the reward of hard-earned exhaustion . . .That is one kind of tired.

The kind of tired that results from burnout is a bone-tired, soul-tired, heart-tired, kind of exhaustion (Pennebaker, 2004).’’

I love this quote because it so clearly outlines the difference between being tired and being burned out. When you are burned out, your entire body feels it. You feel like you are exhausted in every sense of the word. If you have been burned out before, you will understand exactly what I am saying.

Burnout is a seriously overlooked issue in today’s home and workplace. Many of us take on way too much, and wind up becoming overworked and overtired. When we take on too much stress for too long, this can lead to burnout. Burnout can quickly spiral out of control and be difficult to overcome.

It is SO important to know the signs of burnout. That way, you can stop it before it spirals out of control! After reading the most relevant and recent research on burnout, I was able to narrow it down to 10 common symptoms of burnout. Reading this signs can help you identify these symptoms in yourself and others early. 


Here are the 10 Common Symptoms of Burnout (listed in no specific order):

1. Physical Exhaustion – Burnout often leads to exhaustion and takes a toll on your physical self.  Some signs of physical exhaustion include: Waking up exhausted, finding yourself relying on many cups of coffee to get through the day, and not feeling like you have the energy to do the things you once did.

2. Decreased Satisfaction – One telltale sign of burnout is when a person starts feeling decreased satisfaction in areas of their life they previously enjoyed, such as decreased  satisfaction in your job, school, and/or relationships.

3. Lack of Confidence – Another sign of burnout is feeling self-conscious and a lack of confidence in areas that you were previously confident in.

4. Emotional Exhaustion – Emotional exhaustion happens when we feel that we have nothing left emotionally to give. When you feel that you can no longer handle even a simple conversation with a friend or family member, you may be struggling with emotional exhaustion.

5. Bitterness – This is a big sign when it comes to burnout! Feeling bitter towards activities that you previously enjoyed is often listed in the research as one of the primary signs of burnout.

6. Poor Self Care – If you no longer feel that you have the mental or physical energy to shower, go to the gym, put on nice clothes, make meals, or anything that contributes to healthy self care, you may be struggling with burnout.

7. Relational Difficulties – If you find yourself fighting more often with your partner/family member/ friend, or if you find yourself withdrawing and not communicating about how you are feeling, this may be a warning sign that you are burning out.

8. Health Problems – Health problems are often one of the first signs of burnout!  Personally, my body always tells me that I am burning out before my mind even realizes it! Be mindful about what your body is telling you. If you are constantly getting sick and not getting better, this may be a sign that something more is going on!

9. Sleep Difficulties – Examples of sleep difficulties include: Laying in bed at night thinking about all of the things you need to do, tossing and turning for hours on end, nightmares, and having negative thoughts about yourself that you cannot control. It is normal to have a night once in awhile where you cannot sleep, but if these sleep difficulties are becoming typical for you it is time to talk to a doctor our counsellor about it!

10. Loss of Motivation – If you find yourself lacking motivation to finish your project for work, get your kids ready for school in the morning, or meet up with a group for school; this may be a sign of burnout.


Take Home Message: 

It is incredibly important for your own mental health to be aware of these warning signs. No matter what you do for a living, you may be vulnerable to burning out. Far too often people are not aware that they are burning out until they have reached a point where they feel that they cannot continue on with the things that they once loved.

If you are feeling any of these signs, it is important to know that you are not alone and there are ways that you can get yourself out of the horrible spiral of burnout.

As a first step, be sure to talk to someone about it! A trusted friend, family member, family doctor, or a counselor is a great place to start.

Also, if you relate to one of more of these signs make sure you check out our last post Self Care: What others don’t tell you about burnout and exhaustion! This post will give you some realistic ways that you can help yourself overcome burnout!

Comment below which sign of burnout stood out most to you!



Interested in where I found this research, or want to read more on burnout?  Here are my sources!

Bilderbeck, A. C., Farias, M., Brazil, I. A., Jakobowitz, S., & Wikholm, C. (2013). Participation in a 10-week course of yoga improves behavioral control and decreases psychological distress in a prison population. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 47, 1438-1445.

Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (US). Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2014. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 57.) Chapter 2, Building a Trauma-Informed Workforce. Retrieved from:

Hesse (2002). Secondary Trauma: How working with trauma survivors affects therapists. Clinical Social Work Journal, 30(3), 293-309. Retrieved from:

Iliffe G. &  Steed L. G. (2000). Exploring the counselor’s experience of working with perpetrators and survivors of domestic violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence (15),  393–412

Iqbal, A. (2015). The ethical considerations of counselling psychologists working with trauma: Is there a risk of vicarious traumatization? Counselling Psychology Review, 30(1), 44-51. Retrieved from,cookie,ip,uid&db=pbh&AN=101145404

Lawson, G. (2007). Counselor wellness and impairment: A National Survey. The Journal of Humanistic Counseling, 46(1), 20-34. doi:10.1002/j.2161-1939.2007.tb00023.x

Lipsky, L.V. & Burk, C. (2009).  Trauma stewardship: An everyday guide to caring for self while caring for others. Berrett-Koehler Publishers: San Francisco, CA.

Merriman, J. (2015). Enhancing Counselor Supervision Through Compassion Fatigue Education. Journal Of Counseling & Development, 93(3), 370-378. doi:10.1002/jcad.12035

Michealson, A., Grossman, P., Acil, A., Langhorst, J., Ludtke, R., Esch, T., Stefano, G. B., & Dobos, G. J. (2005). Rapid stress reduction and anxiolysis among distressed women as a consequence of a three-month intensive yoga program. Med Sci Monit, 11(12), 555-561.

Pennebaker, J. W. (2004). Writing to heal: A guided journal for recovering from trauma and emotional upheaval, New York: New Harbinger.

PharmD, A. W. L., & Goldsmith, C. A. W. (2012). The Effects of  Yoga on Anxiety and Stress. Alternative Medicine Review, 17(1), 21-35.

Puterbaugh, D. (2015). Self-care in the world of empirically supported treatments. Counseling Today, 57(12), 52-54.

Rogers, C. R. (1961). On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Sansbury, B. S., Graves, K., & Scott W. (2015). Managing traumatic stress responses among clinicians: Individual and organizational tools for self-care. Trauma, 17(2), 114-122. Retrieved from,cookie,ip,uid&db=a9h&AN=101601477

Ulger, O., & Yagli, N. V. (2010). Effects of yoga on the quality of life in cancer patients. Complement Ther Clin Pract, 16(2), 60-63.

Waelde L. C.,  Thompson L., Gallager-Thompson, D.  (2004) A pilot study of yoga and meditation intervention for dementia caregiver stress. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 60, 677-687

Warren, J., Morgan, M., Morris, M. L., Morris, T. M. (2010). Breathing Words Slowly: Creative Writing and Counselor Self-Care—The Writing Workout. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 5(2), 109-124. doi:10.1080/15401383.2010.485074.

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