4 Signs of Burnout: what to look out for before it becomes a problem

Jul 17, 2022 - neurocare group

A person is dealing with stress and burnout

Burnout is one of those conditions that can creep up on us with very little warning. This can apply to workers in high-stress or fast-paced roles as well as athletes, students or people caring for a loved one with an illness. Often people fail to recognise they are affected by burnout until they are completely overwhelmed by symptoms.

Burnout is still relatively little or misunderstood and like anxiety or depression, it can be difficult for people to recognise when they are experiencing symptoms. This can be due to a stigma and perceived pressure that we “should” be able to manage.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been reported that half of UK employees feel that working from home has contributed to some level of burnout When left unchecked, burnout can cause serious and chronic physical and mental symptoms, affecting performance, mood, and energy as well as our immune system.

To prevent the effects of burnout, it can be helpful to carefully observe and question a number of signs and lifestyle factors while we are in a healthy state. Here are four key signs and factors:

  1. Lack of Sleep and Fatigue: Sleep quality is a great indicator of a healthy mind. If you find your mind is overactive before bed or you are noticing you are no longer feeling rested from sleep, this may be a symptom of daily stress leading to burnout. Sleep issues can make us feel drained and have poor focus and performance1. Poor sleep is not only seen as a symptom of burnout but not taking care of our sleep and wake routine may make symptoms worse.

  2. Loss of Creativity, Purpose, Self-Worth: Feelings of self-doubt are a common characteristic of burnout along with a lack of purpose and the inability to find creative solutions2, 3. Often, the longer this is left unaddressed the more this feeling compounds and can take longer to regain a sense of self. Whilst it is normal to feel drained from a difficult workday, take note if you find it has been some time since you felt inspired by your personal interests or hobbies and try to reconnect with these as soon as you have recognised this.

  3. Feelings of Cynicism and Hopelessness: This loss of purpose is often accompanied by a cynical perspective towards others or a situation.  This is also understood as an expression of hopelessness2. This can cause us to lack resilience in stressful situations4 and have a negative bias when interpreting events3.

  4. Feelings of Helplessness: People can feel trapped in their own struggles when experiencing burnout. They often report a sense of defeat and resignation, combined with loneliness and detachment5. This can lead to procrastination which in turn exacerbates the feeling.

We see, as so often the case with mental health conditions, these different dimensions interlink. When these symptoms present themselves, they can easily be dismissed or ignored.

A health coach can be an ideal partner for change to deal with these compounding factors. While our psychology and psychiatry teams at neurocare can help to address mental illnesses like depression, anxiety or ADHD, a health coach can be a suitable option for those experiencing burnout, chaos and stress and who need support to find their way to a healthier perspective and relationship to mind and body.

If you have any questions or are seeking lifestyle advice you can find a neurocare health coach in the following regions:

neurocare clinics Australia: www.neurocareclinics.com.au

neurocare clinics UK: www.neurocareclinics.co.uk

neurocare clinics Italy: www.neurocareclinics.it

neurocare coaching Germany: 


  1. Burnout - Mental Health UK (mentalhealth-uk.org)
  2. A brief intervention to reduce burnout and improve sleep quality in medical students | BMC Medical Education | Full Text (biomedcentral.com)
  3. Bianchi, R., & da Silva Nogueira, D. (2019). Burnout is associated with a depressive interpretation style. Stress and Health, 35(5), 642-649.
  4. Southwick, S. M., Vythilingam, M., & Charney, D. S. (2005). The Psychobiology of Depression and Resilience to Stress: Implications for. Annu. Rev. Clin. Psychol, 1, 255-91.
  5. 5 Signs of Burnout | Mindpath Health


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