5 Signs Of Burnout – How To Spot When You May Be On The Burnout Spectrum

This month I’d like to talk to you about the five signs of burnout, that show you may be moving on that huge burnout spectrum. Perhaps a few red flags going up in terms of your health and wellbeing, all the way through to burnout. Now it’s a long way to go from these early warning signs, but it would be great, if we could identify these things to stop things in their tracks in the early part of that burnout spectrum.

I was influenced by Gail North and Herbert Freudenberger‘s burnout spectrums. They created the burnout spectrum with 12 points.

1. Apathy And Anhedonia

Apathy means you can’t be bothered and everything feels like an effort.

Anhedonia is a loss of pleasure in things you would ordinarily find pleasurable.  You used to love a game of tennis or a dog walk. Now you just don’t feel it. You don’t get the joy from it.

Combined with apathy, you can’t be bothered to go out and do those things and try to get that joy back. This is a sign on the burnout spectrum.

2. Feeling Deeply Fatigued

You feel deeply fatigued, real tiredness, tiredness in the bones. Tiredness perhaps that you just don’t seem to be able to overcome or even get enough sleep to overcome.

3. Finding It Hard To Shut Off

You may feel you just can’t shut off. You might find that you’re dreaming about work or dreaming about some of the problems and anxieties in your life. That your mind is racing and you find it very, very difficult to close that off and to move on. You may find it challenging to get any headspace.

4. Mood Or Personality Changes

Maybe somebody else, a spouse or a colleague has said, you know, you’re behaving a little differently. You seem unsettled. You appear distracted. You’re simply just not yourself. These changes in mood and behavioural problems can be a sign of being on the burnout spectrum. You may notice this in yourself as well. You may feel that you’re not your usual effervescent self.

5. The Body Keeps The Score

This last point is arguably the most important, which is that the body keeps the score. Even if you’re able to push through, ploughing on regardless, which is so common in business and British culture. Know that you can ignore the signs the body sends you, but it does keep the score.

You might notice hair loss. You might notice weight gain or weight loss. Experience other kinds of physical symptoms such as headaches, unexplained, aches and pains. I’ve even known more dramatic symptoms than that. For example, the scarring of a forehead.

You can try and push these signs of burnout stuff aside and ignore the red flags to your health and wellbeing, but it will come back eventually to rear its head. So please don’t ignore it.

This article first appeared in the December issue of SE22 Magazine.