Are You Caught In The Burnout Cycle?

Maryam Taheri
15 min readMay 30

At this point, you’ve heard something about burnout in the workplace. It’s only been dominating the news cycle, podcasts, and water cooler (or Zoom) chats for the past two years. But it’s about time: the pandemic has caused a lot of people to step back and think more critically about our relationship to work-life balance each and every day.

So, if your spidey senses are telling you that maybe something is a little bit out of balance in your relationship to work, how can you tell if it’s full-blown burnout? Here’s how to tell.

Signs and Symptoms of Burnout

Physical Symptoms

Burnout is essentially the result of your body’s stress-response system working overtime for a long period of time. That means an elevated heart rate, shutting down digestion, diverting circulation, and pumping adrenaline, cortisol, and other stress hormones into your body — and then doing it all over again, because your body can’t tell the difference between a tiger about to jump on you and your boss calling you into the office unexpectedly. Over time, the effects of that stress response on your body really take a toll. Here’s what to look for:

  • Changes in your sleep pattern: insomnia, waking frequently, or oversleeping
  • Changes in appetite or missing hunger cues
  • Physical pain (stomach pains, headaches, muscle spasms) that don’t have a logical source
  • Getting sick more often than normal
  • Fatigue, low energy, feelings of constant exhaustion or weariness

Emotional Symptoms

Of course, constant stress and not enough time to rest, relax, and recover definitely takes a toll on your emotions as well. Over time, your mood and personality can change significantly. You may notice:

  • Decreased motivation
  • Struggle to focus or shorter attention span
  • Feelings of loneliness, failure, or helplessness
  • Increased cynicism
  • Difficulty feeling compassion or empathy
  • Depression or anxiety

Behavioral Symptoms

Maryam Taheri

Certified Coach, Founder, Advisor, Mindset + Leadership Expert, and Dog Mom