6 Signs Burnout is Damaging Your Career — and How to Break Free

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
April 17, 2024 at 12:39AM UTC

More than half of those surveyed in Indeed’s 2021 survey of approximately 1,500 workers said they were experiencing burnout this year. At 52%, this is a 9% increase from the same survey conducted before the pandemic. 

Burnout and related factors are causing workers to leave their jobs in record numbers, during a period many are calling the “Great Resignation.” The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a record-high “quits rate” of 2.7% in April 2021.

Is burnout adversely affecting your career? Here are six signs that it could be negatively impacting you and your work.

1. You’re frequently exhausted.

Are you tired all the time? Experiencing insomnia because you’re still thinking about work stressors or dreading the next day when you have to go in again? This is a sign you’re suffering from burnout.

What’s more, if you’re tired all the time, you’re not performing optimally in your job. It becomes a vicious circle, where you’re stressing about work and can’t sleep, and then you worry about your lack of sleep — to the point where you’re just exhausted and drained. This leads to a lack of energy, which, in turn, affects your job performance.

2. Your mental health is suffering.

If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, irritable or otherwise not your best self, your colleagues are bound to notice. These feelings, however justified, can put a strain on your work relationships. Moreover, you could become so overwhelmed that it’s simply mentally draining to do your work and put in the amount of effort the job demands.

3. Your physical health is suffering.

Severe stress, a manifestation of burnout, can also have consequences for your physical health. You may be more prone to illnesses, like colds, along with gastrointestinal ailments, headaches, infections and general aches and pains. It can also have longer-term effects, playing a role in conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease.

This can lead to frequent absenteeism. Or, if you do show up while you’re sick, you may be guilty of presenteeism, meaning you’re physically present at work but not working at your full capacity. 

4. You’re frequently angry.

If you find yourself frequently irritable and angry, both at work and outside of it, you could very well be experiencing burnout. This could lead you to be short with coworkers and even lash out at others when you’re feeling particularly frustrated. This, too, can wreak havoc on your relationships with colleagues and managers and come across as unprofessional, which, in turn, could have longer-term effects on your career.

5. You’re not engaging socially.

When we’re burnt out, we may very well want to be by ourselves. Perhaps you’re isolating in order to give yourself a break, maybe with the hope of recharging, but this can have consequences. Others will worry that you’re not engaging, and this can affect communication in and out of the workplace. Plus, it can be damaging to your career if you’re unable to mesh with your colleagues.

Additionally, you could stop receiving invitations for goings-on outside of work, which can further damage your self-esteem and increase your feelings of isolation.

6. Your performance is suffering.

Ultimately, burnout at work can lead to an overall dip in your performance as an employee. Your productivity could be suffering, and you may be feeling so dismal that you’re not catching mistakes — mistakes that are becoming all too common these days. While a missed deadline here and a typo there might not seem like the biggest deal in the world, when these mistakes add up, your employer could have cause for concern — as could you.

Burnout can have serious consequences on your career and your overall health. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to the signs and take strides to combat it.

Asking for help is one important step. You should also make room for therapeutic and self-care activities, such as exercising, meditating and doing the things you love the most. Looking for more guidance? Here are some additional tips.

About the Career Expert:

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket and The Haven.

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