Burnout is becoming increasingly common in a modern world where almost everyone seems to be chasing goals and productivity. While burnout is frequently associated with jobs and work, if left unaddressed, it can slowly spill over into other aspects of life, such as relationships and even physical health. Thus, recognising and treating burnout is key to balanced mental and physical health

Understanding Burnout and Its Signs

Burnout can be difficult to define or describe. However, in simple terms, burnout is a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. resulting from prolonged and intense stress. It generally occurs when people feel overwhelmed and emotionally drained and are unable to cope with stressors in life. 

Burnout usually starts with disinterest in work or work-related activities, but if it goes on for a long time, it can even contribute to depression. It can also have other effects, such as reduced motivation, increased irritability, etc. Burnout can also weaken the immune system and make the body vulnerable to illnesses like the cold and flu.

The symptoms of Burnout are:

  • Feeling tired or drained most of the time
  • Feelings of dread while thinking about work
  • Change in eating habits or sleep routine
  • Frequently falling ill or having a consistent headache
  • Feeling hopeless or lacking interest towards work
  • Increased self-doubt
  • Procrastinating or reduced efficiency at work
  • Withdrawing from responsibilities
  • Isolating from others
  • Taking frequent leaves or being late at work
  • Lack of concentration
  • Increased irritability or frequent emotional outbursts

How Does Burnout Differ from Tiredness?

On the surface, burnout looks similar to tiredness, so many people find it difficult to differentiate between the two. However, these two are quite different. Tiredness is a temporary condition resulting from physical or mental exertion, while burnout is a prolonged state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion due to consistent stress over some time. While tiredness might go away with some rest, treating burnout requires comprehensive effort and lifestyle changes. 

How to Deal With Burnout?

As mentioned above, burnout usually develops over time; thus, overcoming burnout requires patience and lifestyle changes. Recovery from burnout usually depends on the intensity of the physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. Some ways of overcoming burnout are:

  • Set Boundaries

Burnout can often be a result of a lack of work-life balance. When someone is unable to set appropriate boundaries, they might end up taking on an excessive workload, leading to burnout in the long run. Thus, setting appropriate boundaries at work can help both prevent and overcome burnout.

  • Set Realistic Expectations

All of us want to be productive and feel a sense of contribution when it comes to work, but sometimes being too focused on productivity can contribute to people setting unrealistically high standards or goals for themselves. Setting unrealistic expectations can prevent people from taking appropriate breaks from work, leading to burnout. So, setting realistic expectations is crucial to overcoming burnout.

  • Self-Care

The idea of self-care differs for everyone. Reflect on which activities make you feel happy and refreshed. For some, it could be spending time in nature; for others, it could be taking a trip with family or simply playing with their pet. Mindfully incorporate such activities into your day to maintain a work-life balance.

  • Take A Break

Consider taking a short break from work to take your mind off work stressors.

  • Professional Support

Consider seeking professional help from a therapist to address the underlying causes of burnout. A therapist can also help you find a better work-life balance and set boundaries.


Burnout is not just tiredness; in fact, burnout is a deeper and more complex condition. Recognizing the signs of burnout is crucial to early diagnosis and treatment. If left untreated, burnout can impact life outside of work and may even contribute to depression. One can overcome burnout by setting boundaries, setting realistic expectations, and prioritizing self-care.


  1. Burnout: 5 Signs and What to Do About It. (n.d.). Retrieved January 29, 2024, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/signs-of-burnout
  2. Burnout Prevention and Treatment—HelpGuide.org. (n.d.). Retrieved January 29, 2024, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/burnout-prevention-and-recovery.htm
  3. Preventing burnout: 7 strategies and when to seek help. (2023, August 3). https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/preventing-burnout

Dhruva Koranne

Dhruva Koranne has completed his Masters in Applied Psychology from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, BALM. He has been practicing as a counsellor since 2020 and works to create a safe space for clients where they can open up. In addition to this, Dhruva loves researching and studying about upcoming theories in the field of Psychology. Connect with him on Linkedin