Feeling Burnt Out? Here’s How to Recognize the Signs

Burnout: It’s a term you recognize from drifting through the last dregs of high school and college. That feeling somewhere between sleeplessness and fatigue, between stress and despair. The feeling that makes you stay in bed instead of going to class, that makes you waste your time even as other obligations are piling up. The problem, as we millennials are starting to learn, is that it doesn’t end after graduation. Burnout exists — and may even get worse — when you finally enter the workforce.

Are You Burnt Out?

If you are feeling lazy, stressed, trapped in a lifestyle that is pulling you in every direction and unable to focus on what is essential, you’re probably burnt out. But don’t worry: There are things you can do to make each factor more bearable and even — in some cases — a positive motivator.


If you’re tired all the time, there’s a good possibility you aren’t getting enough sleep, and that you are overworking yourself. One of the most significant contributing factors to this generational illness is initial overwork, followed by a steady falling-off of work ethic and performance as your efforts seem to have no effect and you are miserable and worn down.

Regardless of whether you want to make a fantastic early impression at your job, sacrificing sleep is never a good option. Studies have found those functioning without sleep for 16 hours experience similar effects as mild intoxication — about 0.05 percent blood alcohol content. You don’t drink before going to work each day, so you shouldn’t sacrifice sleep, either.

If you start by getting the recommended seven hours of sleep every night, getting through work won’t feel like an uphill battle, and you won’t rely as much on swift promotion and ladder-climbing for your happiness.

Lack of Focus

Here’s a big one. Many who experience burnout find themselves sliding from one project to the next, starting things off strong before throwing them on the scrap heap half-finished. The same goes for jobs: jumping from one career to the next, trying to find one that will hold your interest and let you do the work you know you’re capable of doing. Fear that you aren’t in the right job or aren’t moving fast enough can manifest into small, daily distractions.

A change of perspective helps with this issue. Try not to think of each new workplace as a step toward where you want to be. That mindset puts unnecessary pressure on you to ascend as quickly as possible, instead of enjoying the journey along the way. Instead, take some time at the water cooler and get to know your coworkers. Build some friendships, and tackle each challenge as it comes. For your career path to lead you where you want to be, patience is a must.


As strange as it sounds, stress is a positive thing. It pushes you to greatness in tough situations, and it is the only real way to feel fulfilled. That said, senseless, constant stress is a terrible prospect. You must have relief and time off to balance out the daily stress. Therein lies the problem.

You’ve probably found yourself in a place where your workplace shoves constant stress on your plate, and when you finally go home for the day, all you want is to sit on the couch and do nothing. But be careful, because this cycle leads to a sense of impending doom as you realize you’ve wasted another joyless day on your phone or computer, and another stressful workday is coming up very soon.

Instead of wasting time, find something to do that engages your brain, but does not stress you out. Cleaning and organizing are great for this, as are writing in a journal or reading a book. Physical activity such as a walk or a workout is another healthy option — you’ll feel a sense of personal accomplishment without the stress of performing at work. It’s also important to take some time off work for something fun when you get the chance: Vacation days exist for a reason.

Stay Positive

Finally, it’s important to remember you’re probably doing a lot better than you give yourself credit for. You’re in a tough period of life, and there is still a rocky road ahead. But you know what you want, and if you stay positive and look for opportunities, burnout can’t touch you. Use stress as a motivator, and treat yourself well. You’re unstoppable.





This Women of Green guest blog is by Megan Ray Nichols. Megan writes about many environmental topics including, renewable energy, conservation and sustainability. She invites you to join the discussion on her own blog, Schooled By Science.



Women of Green is TURNING UP THE VOLUME of the feminine voice on the planet in order to create the world we know is possible.
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