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What is Burnout and How to Avoid It?

Updated: Oct 14, 2023

What is Burnout and How to Avoid It?

Burnout is a condition in which people feel emotionally and physically exhausted, cynical and ineffective. It can occur when someone has taken on too much responsibility, or when they are trying to do too many things at once. According to the Mayo Clinic, burnout can affect anyone but is common in those who work with people or animals.

What is burnout?

Burnout is a state of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion caused by prolonged stress. It can be caused by work, family life or personal relationships. It’s important to note that burnout differs from depression in that you may feel low but still have the energy to function normally.

Burnout can also lead to alcoholism and drug abuse—it’s not uncommon for people who are burnt out or depressed to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol in order to cope with their emotions.

How do you know if you’re burnt out? There are certain signs that will help you tell:

  1. You’re always tired

  2. You’ve lost interest in things you used to enjoy doing (like going on holiday)

  3. You feel overwhelmed by everything (this one’s particularly important)

Burnout and depression are different.

Burnout and depression are two different things, but they can both be caused by the same thing: work stress. Burnout is physical and emotional exhaustion caused by long-term stress (in the workplace or at home). Depression is a mental health disorder that results from chemical imbalances in your brain, which causes feelings of sadness, hopelessness and loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed.

While burnout is often thought to cause depression, it’s important to understand that not everyone who experiences burnout will develop depression. In fact, some people never develop any symptoms as a result of their work stresses and pressures. However, if you already have an existing case of depression or anxiety disorder then ongoing work-related stressors may make your symptoms worse over time.

Signs of burnout.

  1. Reduced productivity

  2. Lowered morale

  3. Diminished enthusiasm

  4. Reduced ability to cope with stress

  5. Increased absenteeism

  6. Decreased performance

  7. Increased turnover

How to avoid burnout?

Avoiding burnout is all about making sure you have time for yourself. It’s not always possible, but try to take a break, even if it’s just for an hour or two. You don’t have to go on a long vacation; just find a place in your schedule where you can recharge your batteries and reduce stress levels.

If it’s not possible for you to take time off work because of deadlines or other obligations, try getting involved in another activity outside of work that brings joy into your life. For instance: join a sports team or choir group; learn how to play an instrument; take up photography as a hobby; volunteer at an animal shelter or food bank; spend some time with friends doing something fun (such as playing board games). The key here is balance: find something new that interests you while also keeping the main focus on the job itself so there won’t be any distractions from work responsibilities during the day!

Burnout is not a permanent condition

Burnout is not a permanent condition. You can recover from it and prevent it from happening again. You can learn to recognize the signs of burnout, deal with them in a healthy way, and move on from them.


The symptoms of burnout can be hard to notice at first. It’s understandable that your feelings of exhaustion, frustration, and detachment might creep up on you before they become a serious problem. That’s why it’s important to pay attention if you start noticing any signs of burnout so that you can take action before things get worse.

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