12 Signs You're Burnt Out, Even If You Don't Feel Exhausted

by Mia Mercado

We spend a lot of our lives working. So much so that recognizing when we need to take a break can be hard letting know how to refuel in a way that actually fills us up. However, knowing the signs that you’re starting to get burnt out is the first step to figuring out how to recharge. And make no mistake: in a culture that often celebrates working yourself to death, many of us are getting burnt out.

It’s easy to mistake burn out and exhaustion as one and the same. While feeling physically exhausted may certainly be a sign it’s time for a break, it isn’t the only sign. Earlier this year, Bustle asked 283 millennial women what work-life balance looks like for them. Nearly half of respondents (48 percent) said that balance doesn’t currently exist for them. For more than a quarter of respondents (26.5 percent), work-life balance was thrown off by needing to be constantly accessible by phone or email. That lack of work-life balance is what led to nearly 40 percent of respondents quitting as they saw leaving their job as their only way out.

You shouldn’t need to on the brink of leaving a job to know it’s time to take a break. Additionally, taking the time you need to relax and step away from work may be key to preemptively dealing with work burn out. Before you check out completely, here are 12 signs that you’re getting burnt out at work.


You Don’t Feel Motivated Anymore

A 2011 Gallup poll found that a majority of Americans aren’t engaged at work. Seventy-one percent of people in the workforce reported being “not engaged” or “actively disengaged.” In other words, they felt “emotionally disconnected” from their job which led to a lack of productivity. Laurie Erdman, creator of the “Burnt Out To Balanced System,” described this as the most common form of burn out for HuffPo. If you don’t feel motivated or engaged at work, Erdman writes, “Recognize that you are not broken, you simply got off track.” She adds, “Maybe you’ve lost your resilience to constant change. Maybe you’re depressed. No matter what, get help. Whether you hire a coach or a therapist (or both), start to take care of yourself from the inside out. Everyone deserves to love their work.”


Your Performance Is Slacking

Like feeling a lack of motivation, a decrease in productivity and performance are key signs that it’s time to take a break. That decrease in performance can easily seep into how we feel about ourselves on a deeper level, as Juli Fraga writes for HealthLine. “People experiencing burnout often feel like they have nothing left to give,” Fraga writes, which making the poor performance/feeling poorly cycle continue if people are unable to take the time off they need..


You’re More Irritable Than Usual

We get cranky when we’re tired. You know this is true if you’ve ever spent time around a toddler who refuses to take the nap they so desperately need. If if you don’t think work is exhausting you, your body might be telling you otherwise. “Without adequate sleep, your thought processes, memory, and learning are all impaired, which forces you to confront the demands of your day with constrained resources,” W. Christopher Winter, M.D., medical director of the Sleep Medicine Center at Martha Jefferson Hospital, explained to Men’s Health. Additionally, studies have shown that sleepiness is linked with increased activity in the amygdala, the part of our brain that processes emotion.


You’re Being Overly Self-Critical

Regardless of what field you work in, feeling a lack of creative inspiration can affect your overall work productivity. When it comes to creative burn out, perfectionism and being overly self-critical can be a signal that your brain needs a creative break or just a break from work in general. Not only is being overly self-critical bad for your work, “toxic perfectionism” is bad for your mental health.


You’re More Overwhelmed Or Indecisive

“Things that used to be no problem may feel like a weight dragging you down. You may hear yourself saying, 'I can’t handle my life!' Or, 'I wish life would just slow down for a while!' These are signs that you probably should slow down for a while,” AZ Postpartum Wellness Coalition Christina G. Hibbert, Psy.D, previously told Bustle. If seemingly simple decision making, even disconnected from work, sends your brain into a frenzy, it could be a sign of burn out.


You’re Constantly Looking At The Clock, Waiting For The Day To Be Done

Are you finding yourself more and more ready for the work day to be done before it's begun? “If getting through the day feels unbearable even if you've had adequate sleep or you feel like you don't have the mental capacity to deal with life, these are symptoms of burn out,” Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, previously told Bustle.


Your “Sunday Scaries” Are At A Peak

Many of us feel some level of “Sunday Scaries,” or that nervous/anxious feeling you get Sunday night before the beginning of a new work week. There are ways to stop the Sunday Scaries, if you’re feeling them at a normal level. However, if you find yourself dreading the impending new week at the end of every weekend, that could be a sign of work burn out, as Business Insider reports.


You’re Thinking About Work 24/7

The average American already spends between 47 to 50 hours working each week. Factor in time to get a decent night’s sleep and (hopefully) weekends, that doesn’t leave much time each day to yourself. Recognizing that you haven’t taken time (or had time) to think of yourself can help prevent work burnout from becoming inevitable.


You’re Feeling Drained In Your Personal Life

A major sign that work is burning you out is that exhaustion seeping beyond your workday. Do you feel too worn out to see friends? Does your job to de-stress leave you feeling more exhausted than usual. Those could be signs that work is draining you out.


Other Health Problems Are Popping Up

Have more headaches than usual? What about a recent bout of insomnia? Burnout can cause health problems beyond just physical exhaustion. “In addition to dysregulation in brain function, emerging evidence suggests that — much like other chronic stress conditions — burnout also leads to turmoil within the regulation of the body’s neuroendocrine system,” Alexandra Michel writes for the Association of Psychological Science. “The hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis is an important component in the regulation of the stress response, controlling the release of the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol.” Basically: burnout leads to heightened stress leads to health problems.


You’re Drinking More Than You Usually Do

Mayo Clinic lists turning to “food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel” as a sign of job burnout.


You Don’t Feel As Happy And You Don’t Know Why

Emotional exhaustion is real and can affect you far beyond your mood. As clinical psychologist Deborah Offner, PhD, previously told Bustle by email, “Emotional exhaustion is wider ranging and longer lasting than ‘a bad week.’ It includes a constellation of physical and psychological symptoms that are caused by significant and prolonged stress in our professional or personal lives. Emotional exhaustion is a component of, or may be a precursor to, burnout.” If your job isn’t bringing you the satisfaction it used to, perhaps it’s time to take a break and reassess.