I was a high achiever, perfectionist, and people-pleaser – that combination led me to complete burnout.
From the outside, my life seemed perfect – I successfully obtained my degrees, I had a good job, and good people in my life. But on the inside, I felt dead. I felt exhausted, unfulfilled, and unhappy.
Ladies and gentlemen say hello to burnout.
The truth is, burnout doesn’t happen overnight, it happens over time, as a result of chronic stress.
For years, I was in a constant state of stress. I continuously pushed myself too far and had the most difficult time saying no to anyone about anything. I just wanted to make everyone happy.
After doing this for so long, the signs of burnout became harder for me to ignore. And I learned it’s so important to recognize these signs early, for you to avoid reaching such a deep level of burnout.
My goal, with sharing my story, is to help you better recognize signs that you may be pushing yourself too far; to encourage you to take the steps early in protecting your wellness, and to give you hope that things can and will get better.
DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this blog is written from personal and lived experience. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace professional mental health services, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health or mental health, you should always consult with a health-care professional.
Here are a few signs of burnout that I experienced:
These are changes I noticed in myself when my burnout reached its worst, right before I made the life-changing decision to start taking better care of myself.
# 1 – Preoccupied With Work, When Not at Work
I would worry about work all the time. I worried about work while I was at the office; I worried after I left the office; I worried throughout the night, and into the next day. I was in a constant state of worry and had no sense of balance in life.
# 2 – Difficulty Sleeping
As I became more and more burned out, my sleeping patterns changed. I was no longer able to fall asleep easily or get a good night’s rest. I would lie in bed and worry – worry about the task I didn’t get done at work or the client I didn’t have time to call. I would wake up in a panic of having to get stuff done. I never felt relaxed enough to sleep and always felt tense.
Related: 10 Ways To Calm Anxiety At Night
# 3 – Health Problems
When I was burned out, I felt physically unhealthy – my body felt sicker and weaker. I would get colds more frequently. I started having high blood pressure. I would get aches and pains. I would break out more and get rashes. Now I see that my body was desperately trying to tell me to take a breather, but I was too consumed with worry that I didn’t recognize it.
# 4 – Increased Anxiety & Panic
Although anxiety is something I always struggled with, I noticed my anxiety levels increase with burnout. My anxiety felt more intense, and I was less able to cope with it. I would panic more and experience panic attacks. Even smaller things, things that would never bother me before, started to make me anxious.
# 5 – Isolation
I began to isolate myself from friends and family. I pulled away from my co-workers. I would cancel plans and avoid others, just because I felt too exhausted to go out and spend time with them. Everything felt like a chore, and I was too exhausted for it all. The thought of taking the time to spend with others seemed like time I didn’t have. And it became difficult to be supportive to others because I felt like I had nothing else left in me to give.
# 6 – Lack of Motivation
I lost motivation in everything. Although I worried about work, and always wanted to be perfect at everything I did, I no longer felt the same motivation to succeed. My thoughts were more preoccupied with worry than with motivation. I didn’t have the energy to feel motivated. Motivation exhausted me.
# 7 – Consistent Exhaustion
I was always tired. My tank was running on empty. All I wanted to do was sleep. I would leave work for the day, get home, and immediately crash on the couch for the night. I lacked the energy to do anything. Everything exhausted me, and even the simplest things seemed like huge, overwhelming tasks. And because I couldn’t sleep well, I never got the rest I needed to re-charge and re-energize. I was in a vicious cycle of exhaustion.
# 8 – Increased Negativity
I became a negative person. I started to have a more negative outlook on life. My negative self-talk intensified. I had difficulty seeing the positive side of anything. I had always been a “glass half full” kind of person, but that all changed as I became more and more burned out. I lost my optimism and became a total pessimist.
# 9 – Lack of Concentration & Forgetfulness
Because my thoughts were on overdrive, and my worry was so overwhelming, I started to have difficulty concentrating on tasks, and would often forget things. My stress was getting in the way of everything, and I struggled with focusing my attention enough to concentrate. And because I was worried about a million things at once, it became impossible for me to remember everything. My brain was too preoccupied with anxious thoughts, and this took a toll on my memory.
# 10 – Loss of Appetite
Eating started to feel like a chore. It felt like one more thing to do on my never-ending To-Do list. I no longer felt pleasure in food. I would eat because it was something I knew I should do, and I rarely felt hungry.
# 11 – Never In The Present Moment
I would struggle with being present. It felt as though I was an empty shell – my body was present, but my mind was not. My mind was always preoccupied with something else. I had difficulty focusing on the moment because I was always in my head, stressing over something in my mind.
The truth is, I’m in a much better place than I was at the time of my peak burnout. And it’s because I finally decided to make my well-being a priority, and I am immensely grateful each day for doing that.
And you can too.
If you recognize these signs in yourself, I am proud of how far you’ve come. Recognizing is a big first step. Now that you’ve noticed signs of burnout, it’s time to make a change in your life. You NEED to make your wellness a priority today.
Practice relaxation and mindfulness, start setting up healthy boundaries, reach out to others for support, or talk to a counsellor.
Make the decision today to love yourself enough to care about your well-being.
Thanks so much for stopping by today <3