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Stages of Burnout

Burnout can affect your mental, physical and emotional state. The feelings of burnout typically occur when you’re overwhelmed at work and feel as if you can no longer keep up with the rigors of your job.

Don’t confuse burnout with stress, though. Stress is having too much on your plate — too much work to handle, too many responsibilities, too many hours spent working. Burnout is the opposite. You typically feel like you don’t have enough — not enough motivation, not enough energy, not enough care.

Symptoms may also present as physical, emotional or behavioral.

Physical symptoms include:

  • Feeling tired

  • Having difficulty sleeping

  • Experiencing a change in appetite

  • Dealing with headaches or muscle pain

Emotional symptoms include:

  • Lacking motivation

  • Experiencing feelings of self-doubt

  • Failure or loneliness

  • An overall feeling of dissatisfaction

Behavioral symptoms include:

  • Social isolation

  • Not performing your responsibilities

  • Work-related anger outbursts

Burnout isn’t a sudden onset of feelings. Instead, your thoughts, feelings and actions progress through a series of stages. The initial stages may not feel like much, but they can eventually lead to a habitual phase that makes it hard to carry out your occupational duties.

It plays out in stages as demands and work stressors pile on. Knowing about each stage can help you recognize signs of burnout before it becomes problematic.

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