We’ve all heard of the term ‘burnout’ before. But are you aware of how it feels and what to do if you experience it?

The World Health Organisation classifies burnout as an ‘occupational phenomenon’. Although it is not a medical condition, it is still a very real feeling that requires support and self-help. Burnout is when someone feels exhausted and has a lack of interest for an extended period of time, which results in a decline in performance.

Burnout can cause serious damage to our health and wellbeing so it is important to learn when we may be feeling it, what the triggers are, and what we can do to avoid it.

What are the signs?

Burnout can impact us both mentally and physically. The most common signs that you are experiencing burnout include:

  • Low energy
  • Emotionally exhausted
  • Negative feelings towards work
  • Low performance: being unproductive, inefficient, unable to complete tasks
  • Heart problems
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Lack of motivation
  • Frustration
  • Cognitive problems such as solving simple tasks

How does it happen?

Knowing the signs is important to note when we need to give ourselves a break. But understanding how burnout is brought on can help avoid it all together. Triggers for burnout can include:


Having too much on, not enough time to complete tasks, creating too much pressure for ourselves and not giving ourselves enough time to rest and recover can lead to burnout.


How much control we feel we have over our work and lives can be a serious trigger – not having the autonomy to choose what tasks to complete, when to do it, and how. Feeling like we are being micro-managed.


The relationships around us are a big trigger, whether we agree with the people we work with, whether our values align, if we feel like we are treated with respect and fairness, any friction or simply not getting on, and a general feeling of not being part of a community.

What can we do to avoid burnout?

There are other steps you can take to help reduce the effects of burnout or to avoid it all together, which we can incorporate into our everyday lives. These include:

  • Sleep

Turn off all devices and relax before going to bed at night. Give yourself a proper rest, with a full night’s sleep.

  • Exercise

Walk, run, dance. Whatever you enjoy doing to get your exercise in, will help to release the day’s stress and boost your endorphins.

  • Community

Stay connected to friends and family to give you a real sense of community and give your mind a break from ‘work talk’.

  • Mindfulness

Practicing meditation and mindfulness can reduce stress and improve overall wellbeing.

  • Doing things you love

Get creative, make time for fun and relaxing hobbies. Having something non-work related to look forward to can really help. 

  • Annual Leave

Even if you have no plans to go anywhere, taking your annual leave to just give yourself time to clock off and relax will allow you to recharge.

  • Stick to work hours

Give yourself dedicated start and end times, with a lunch break included to ensure you are not working overtime every day. Remind yourself that tasks can wait till the next day. 

With most of us working from home, burnout can be an even bigger risk. When working in the office it is easy to leave work behind for the day once it hits 5 pm, physically and mentally. But when working at home, it is easy to start early, finish later than usual, not give yourself a full lunch break and even visit work later in the evening.

The line between work and home life is blurred, which can lead to us not giving ourselves the break we really need. To avoid burnout, give yourself the same structure that you would if you were going into the office each day.

If you need advice on how to support employees with burnout, get in touch to discuss wellbeing strategies for the workplace.