Why Do We Burnout? Symptoms & How to Manage Stress

logo by Editorial Staff | Posted on September 16th, 2022

Burnout can occur if workplace stress persists for a long time. One of the signs of burnout is feeling empty, worn out, and unable to handle daily life. Your burnout could even make it challenging to function if ignored. 

Knowing the warning signals will help you decide whether the stress you are under is having a bad effect on you. Discover the physical and mental signs of burnout, the risk factors, and some treatment options. 

woman covering face with both hands closeup photography

What is burnout?

Burnout is a response to persistent or ongoing workplace stress. Exhaustion, cynicism (less affiliation with the job), and perceptions of diminished professional abilities are its three primary defining characteristics. Simply put, you are showing indications of burnout if you feel worn out, despise your job, and feel less competent at work. 

The majority of people’s waking hours are spent at work. Therefore, it can seriously affect your life if you despise your job, dread going to work, and get no satisfaction from what you’re doing. Burnout symptoms are a sign of its toll. 

What are the burnout stages?

Burnout doesn’t come on suddenly. Instead, there are various stages that your ideas, emotions, and behaviors go through. Although the early stages might not seem like much, they can eventually result in a habitual phase that makes it challenging to do your job duties. 

Honeymoon phase

Similar to the honeymoon period in a marriage, this stage is full of enthusiasm and hope. It’s typical to feel satisfied when beginning a new work or job, which might result in spurts of productivity and the capacity to unleash your creative side. 

The onset of the stress phase

The honeymoon period eventually ends, and you start to feel stressed. Even though stress doesn’t last throughout the day, it happens more frequently at certain points. As this stage starts, keep an eye out for any physical or mental symptoms.

You could start to find it easier to lose focus or work less efficiently. Physical exhaustion can begin to set in, making it harder to sleep or pleasure in things outside work. 

Chronic stress phase

You will eventually reach a point where the tension intensifies or becomes chronic. As the strain grows, the stress will probably continuously impact your work. Examples include feeling apathetic, not finishing assignments on time, arriving late for work, or putting off duties.

Socially, you could avoid engaging in typical business-related talks. Other times, you could lose your temper and strike out at your coworkers. These emotions might sometimes follow you home and impact your interactions with friends and family. 

Burnout phase

You hit your breaking point during this stage and cannot continue operating normally. Workplace issues start to consume you to the point where you become fixated on them. You might also occasionally feel numb and have a lot of self-doubts. Physical symptoms will worsen, resulting in gastrointestinal problems, frequent headaches, and stomach and abdominal discomfort.

Habitual burnout phase 

Burnout can become a regular part of your life if it is not handled, eventually resulting in anxiety or depression. Chronic physical and mental exhaustion that keeps you from working can also start to set in. If you go on this course, your employment position can be difficult. 

Burnout symptoms

The signs and symptoms of burnout differ from person to person, and not everyone who has burnout exhibits every symptom. However, they might consist of:

  • A person’s capacity to feel compassion for those relying on them for care may be diminished by compassion fatigue. 
  • Tiredness and weariness can be either mental or physical. 
  • A diminished sense of accomplishment and competence at work
  • Increased physical health issues like joint pain or headaches 
  • Issues with sleep
  • Signs of melancholy, depression, or despair
  • Using drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism
  • Imagining quitting your position or function
  • Mistreating others, such as when a manager treats a subordinate poorly, or a parent or caregiver mistreats a child. An absence of meaning, joy, or identity. 

Risk factors for burnout symptoms

High-stress employment doesn’t always result in burnout. You might not encounter these negative consequences if your stress is effectively handled. However, some people (and those in particular occupations) are more likely than others to have burnout symptoms. Team member burnout can be attributed to five work-related factors: 

Unreasonable time pressures

The likelihood of experiencing high burnout is reduced by 70% for workers who report having enough time to complete their work. People who cannot get more time, such as paramedics and firefighters, are more likely to experience burnout. 

Lack of role clarity

Only 60% of employees are aware of their expectations. Employees may become worn out just trying to figure out what they should do when expectations are like moving targets. 

Unfair treatment

High levels of burnout are 2.3 times more likely to occur among workers who believe they are being unfairly treated at work. Favoritism, unequal pay, and maltreatment by a coworker are all examples of unjust treatment. 

Although pressures from other aspects of your life might also raise these levels, the stress that leads to burnout can primarily come from your employment. Perfectionism and pessimism, for example, are cognitive patterns and personality qualities that can increase stress. 

Lack of communication and support from management

Support from the manager acts as a psychological defense against stress. Employees are 70% less likely to regularly experience burnout if they feel warmly supported by their manager. 

Unmanageable workload

Even the most upbeat employees will experience hopelessness when the burden appears insurmountable. Overwhelming feelings might easily result in burnout symptoms. 

What can you do to manage stress and avoid burnout

People engage in a variety of harmful behaviors to cope with stress. Instead of slowing down, they overeat, abuse drugs and alcohol, and push themselves harder. But we can use emotional intelligence to manage stress and prevent burnout. Consider doing the following:

Don’t be the source of your stress

Too many of us unintentionally cause our stress and all of the physical symptoms that accompany it by imagining or planning potentially unpleasant situations or future events. People with high aspirational or perfectionistic impulses may be more likely to cause themselves stress.

According to our research findings, leaders who are aware of the demands they place on themselves are better able to manage their stress levels. 

Take deep breaths when you feel your tension and anxiety rapidly rising

Mindfulness techniques enable us to manage both short-term and long-term challenges. Many of the individuals in our study mentioned utilizing mindfulness practices to lower their blood pressure and heart rate when under stress.

As one leader said, “Practicing mindfulness allows me to be more open to various answers, and I don’t waste time in defense mode.” For example, it may be challenging at first to increase your awareness of your breathing, but remember that attention is the ultimate act of self-control. 

Recognize your limitations

Knowing your skills and limitations will help you identify where you need support. Their biggest source of stress is taking on leadership responsibilities. Those who understood when the demands exceeded their capacity did not attempt it alone; instead, they surrounded themselves with reliable experts and requested assistance. 

Reevaluate your perspective of the situation

Do you think that a certain circumstance poses a threat to what you value? Or do you see it as a challenge that you must overcome? Your ability to reduce stress can be greatly impacted by altering your perception of whether you are under eustress or distress. 

De-escalate conflicts by putting yourself in the other person’s shoes 

It’s best to de-escalate disagreements whenever possible because the tension they cause frequently results in burnout. Ask questions, listen intently, and display curiosity. Keep your concentration on the other person and pay attention to what he is saying. You’ll be in a lot better shape to win his trust and influence him if you try to grasp his point of view. 

You can prevent burnout in both yourself and others by utilizing and improving your emotional intelligence. Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to yourself. 


Although burnout is common in the office, its repercussions can have a disastrous impact on your personal and family life. Burnout may be severe and incapacitating, as you know if you have experienced it.

Never underestimate the influence it can have on your life. Don’t undervalue your capacity to act on your behalf, though. A person doesn’t only experience burnout. You can decide to carefully consider the elements causing your burnout and take new actions to ameliorate at least some of them. 


Editorial Staff

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