How Can I Tell If I'm Burned Out?
Updated: Jan 6
Over the course of the last several years, I've spent hundreds (maybe thousands) of hours learning what burnout is, what causes it, and what can be done to defeat it.
One of the most important things I've learned is that for many people it's hard to even figure out if they are burned out. There's no blood test for it. You can't pee in a cup and have that checked for the signs of burnout. An MRI won't help either. And the assessment tools that do exist aren't well publicized nor are they well understood.
So I want to offer you, potential burnout victim, a simple set of questions that can help you identify whether or not you might be suffering from burnout:
Do you often wake up in the morning dreading what's to come in the day ahead?
Do you start to feel antsy, gloomy, or extra tired on Sunday (or whatever day comes before the start of your work week)?
Are you feeling an unusually high degree of frustration with co-workers, family members, fellow drivers, etc.?
Have you had multiple days within the past 10 days where your mind and/or body felt sluggish?
Is your ability to stay focused on your work and/or complete tasks not what it usually is?
Do you regularly have thoughts similar to "this sucks", "what's the point of even trying?", "wow, things keep getting worse", or "I don't even care anymore"?
Do you often feel like you're alone with your problems and stresses?
Have you noticed that you've stopped putting energy towards things you used to love doing (socializing, exercising, cooking, etc.)?
Are you experiencing physical symptoms (e.g., more frequent colds, more intense headaches, generalized or acute pain) that you either can't explain or that are dramatically different than your normal experience of those issues?
Is your patience at or near an all-time low?
Got your answers jotted down and counted up?
Ok, here's the scale for my unscientific, but pretty damn accurate, quiz:
Number of "Yes" Responses
Your Burnout Risk
8 or more
You are burned out. Let's talk about resources that can help you.
6 - 7
You are at high risk for burnout, if you're not already there. It's a good time to start making changes before things get worse.
4 - 5
It's getting hotter in here. Pay attention to what is causing your stress and look for help alleviating it.
Move along, nothing to see here... (Just kidding! I'm happy for you and keep doing whatever you're doing to stay out of burnout.)
As a reference point, the questions I used above are based on the formal definition of burnout, which includes three main symptoms (Exhaustion, Cynicism, Lack of Efficacy). I've also incorporated symptoms from stories I've collected over time from burnout victims I have interviewed.
Regardless of the score you might have ended up with, if you're feeling like burnout is a problem for you, I want you to know that it's ok to be burned out. There's no shame in it. In fact, recent studies have shown that anywhere from 52% to 76% people in the U.S. are experiencing some level of burnout.
You are not alone.
And you don't have to be alone with your burnout. People like me, who have been through it and learned how to defeat it, are here to get you out of it, too.
All you have to do is say you're ready to work on defeating your burnout. We've got you from there.
Jim Young is a Men's Burnout Coach. After going through a multi-year battle with his own burnout, he has dedicated himself to creating a healthy, balanced and happy life for himself. Having achieved that, Jim now works on helping other people, individually and as organizations, create the same lifestyle for themselves.
When he's not working to defeat other people's burnout with them, Jim can be found on a hiking trail, baking a pie in his kitchen, on a stage at Happier Valley Comedy doing live improvised comedy shows, and goofing around with his friends, partner, and kids.
You can reach Jim via email. He'd especially love to hear from you if you are struggling with burnout.