Burnout: all you need to know to identify it, what causes it and how to avoid it

Burnout: all you need to know to identify it, what causes it and how to avoid it

Feeling exhausted lately? It is not always easy to determine the cause of this feeling, but you might be suffering from burnout. Here are some tips to avoid being constantly stressed.

Burnout explained

Burnout is a term coined by Herbert Freudenberger in the 70s that describes a serious stress state that might have physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. It is not just ordinary fatigue, burnout prevents you from being able to deal with stress and your daily responsibilities. When it is not addressed, it might lead to severe depression and a feeling of hopelessness.

People affected by burnout

People who have been exposed for a long period of time to stressful situations –like taking care of an ill person–, or worked for long hours or witnessed upsetting news can suffer from it. Professionals who are continually exposed to stress are prone to burnout –doctors, nurses, first aid responders, and people who take care of children.

People who have been exposed for a long period of time to stressful situations are more likely to experience burnout.

The symptoms

Feeling extremely tired

If you are exhausted and experience headaches, stomachaches or changes in your appetite or sleep, it might be a sign of burnout.

Feeling extremely tired can be a sign of burnout.


Burnout might make you feel overwhelmed and this may lead to stop socializing with your loved ones.

Escape fantasies

People with burnout often fantasize about quitting their jobs and going away on their own to escape from their emotional pain.


Burnout might make you lose your temper more easily and little changes to your plans may make you snap.

Being often ill

Exposure to long-term stress can lower your immune system and make you more likely to catch an illness, and of course, it can lead to anxiety and depression as well.

Stages of burnout

Before being completely burnout, there are some phases a person usually experiences and if you identify them, you can stop it before it’s too late:

  1. Feeling extremely ambitious either because you’ve taken up a new activity or started a new job.
    Excessive drive can be the first stage of burnout.
  2. Overworking
  3. Self-neglecting. It can go from failing to attend to one’s personal needs or hygiene to putting our own health, safety or well-being at risk.
  4. Blaming someone else instead of admitting you are pushing your limits too far.
  5. Leaving no time for leisure, avoiding to see your friends and family and instead of enjoying time with them you consider it a burden.
  6. Living in denial and failing to take responsibility for your behaviors.
  7. Withdrawal from all social invitations.
  8. Changes in your behavior
  9. Depersonalization: you feel detached from your life and lose the ability to control it.
  10. Feeling empty or anxious.
  11. Depression
  12. Mental or physical collapse

Tips to prevent burnout

Exercise regularly

It is good for your physical and emotional health, so make sure to stick to a healthy workout routine.

Exercise helps prevent burnout.

Eat healthily

Include omega-3 fatty acids that have a natural antidepressant effect.

Sleep well

It is absolutely paramount for us to sleep for at least 7 to 8 hours. Stay away from electronics and avoid drinking caffeinated drinks before going to be.

Ask for help

It is perfectly normal to ask for help from your loved ones and if you feel like you cannot cope with the situation, don’t be afraid to visit a therapist.

Ask for help if you are feeling anxious.

If you know of someone that has been experiencing burnout make sure to listen and talk to them, having someone to share your feelings makes a world of difference. Try to validate their feelings and offer specific types of help –like offering to drop off a meal or help with their laundry.

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Victoria Thais

A trip to India was all it took for Victoria to realise that meditation is not a fancy word for sitting around in silence. It truly changed Victoria’s life to a less stressful and more mindful one. Now a freelance consultant and journalist, Victoria joined KOKO to share her knowledge on those little things that are life so much better, and cosier.+ info

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