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Sneaky Signs You're Actually Burning Out At Work

You fantasize about giving it all up and going away.
PHOTO: Nick Onken

We’re sure you’re familiar with the concept of burnout, which Psychology Today defines as “a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.” We’ve tackled obvious symptoms such as being tired all the time, losing motivation, being negative, having trouble focusing, and underperforming here, but burnout brings out other symptoms and behaviors that you may be brushing off as nothing.

Below, we list some signs of burnout that you should also watch for so you can make changes to gain back control of your life—or quit the job that’s causing you endless stress altogether.

1. You fantasize about giving it all up and going away.

It’s normal to fantasize about leaving your 9-to-6 to shack up at a beach town, but if the fantasies have taken over your thoughts, they could be pointing to burnout. Same goes for fantasizing about taking a long vacation just to “get away from work”—avoidance is a common route among those suffering from chronic stress.

2. To you, Fridays are an absolute godsend.

Once Friday rolls round, everyone’s celebrating, but you’re TGIF-ing more than most because the freedom and relief of getting a two-day break from work makes you so happy, you could cry.

3. You’ve become forgetful.

While under stress, your body pumps out cortisol, a hormone that can actually mess with memory recall. Getting too little sleep also makes you less alert and hinders your recollection. No wonder you’re always forgetting where you left your glasses or what people’s names are.

4. You’re making little mistakes left and right.

You may notice yourself being more careless with tasks that you used to be able to carry out with no problem. Blame it on your forgetfulness, or your once-sharp focus might have waned because there’s just too much to be done, all the damn time.

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5. Your coworkers walk on eggshells around you.

Whether they hesitate when approaching you for a task or show concern that you’re struggling with your workload, pay attention to how they act around you. You might be giving off nega vibes in the workplace without being aware of it.


6. You’re biting people’s heads off.

Even if you’re able to keep your cool around a demanding client or that idiot coworker, you may be more likely to snap at your family or your partner at the slightest provocation, causing a strain in your closest relationships.

7. You don’t feel like talking about your job.

Whenever people ask you about your work, you’re dismissive in your replies. You’re already tied to your job more than you’d like to be; you don’t want it seeping into your social life as well.

8. You just want to be alone.

If you’re not snapping at people, you’re avoiding them altogether to conserve what little energy you have left. At home, you may be curt in your interactions and prefer to shut everyone out. And you’re not the social butterfly you used to be, choosing to sleep in on weekends than to head out and see friends.

9. You’re not taking care of your health.

You could be drinking more, smoking more, giving up exercise, or stuffing your face with junk food each day. When you’re burned out, your self-control falters and you give in to these little pleasures—even though you know they’re ultimately bad for you. 

10. You have various aches and pains.

When you’re suffering from burnout, it’s common to experience symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, body aches, and other health complaints. “Oftentimes, aches and pains are an accumulation of stress and anxiety,” says Dr. Travis Bradberry, coauthor of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, in a LinkedIn article.

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11. Your stomach is whack.

“Stress can alter gut secretions and slow or speed up digestion, causing problems like reflux, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea,” says Dr. Michael Gershon, a professor of pathology and cell biology at Columbia University and author of The Second Brain, in an interview with Fox News. And that’s not all: “The presence or absence of different bacteria [in the gut] can influence the strength of your entire immune system, your weight, even your mood,” he continues. Uh-oh.

12. You have CRAZY dreams.

When you’re sleep-deprived, you tend to get more intense dreams. Dr. Joyce Walsleben, an associate professor at the Sleep Disorders Center at NYU School of Medicine, offers a possible explanation: When you’re exhausted, your brain rushes into REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is the stage of the sleep cycle when dreams occur. Plus, if you’re stressed out, you’re more likely to wake up in the middle of the night, in the middle of a dream, and remember all the wacky shit that took place in it. And unless those dreams involve you, Zac Efron, and a desert island, do you really want to spend your sleeping time that way?

Sources: Business Insider, Bustle, Forbes, Fox News, LinkedIn, Psychology Today, Time 

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