The 4 Signs Of Burnout And How You Can Prevent It

By Olivia Arezzolo
29th Nov 2023

Statistically, mental health issues are on the rise; from 18.7% to 22.8% in only five years, according to 2016 Mission Australia Mental Health Youth Report. The World Health Organisation pinpoints depression to be the leading cause of poor health, rising more than 18% globally since 2005. Putting it bluntly, the way we live is taking a dramatic toll on our overall wellbeing.

If that wasn’t enough, evidence from the 2018 Sealy Sleep Cencus has found that anxiety and chronic worry are the two driving forces behind sleeplessness, which now impacts 77% of Aussies on a weekly basis.

Between setting professional and personal goals, growing our Instagram following, saying yes to every social occasion and always putting our hands up for extra projects at work, our lives can seem, well, pretty exhausting. If you’re feeling stressed out and have next to no energy on the regular, burn out is real—and you’re not alone.

Here’s how to recognise the signs of burn out, and tips that can help prevent it.

Signs You May Be Burning Out

Feeling Wired, Anxious And Unable To Switch Off

Academic journal Annual Review of Clinical Psychology pinpoints prolonged stress leads to excessive adrenalin, noradrenaline and cortisol (aka your stress hormones) pumping throughout your body. Putting it simply, you experience the symptoms above.

You’re Constantly Sick

Evidence shows that cortisol (the stress hormone) suppresses your immune system, leading to both acute and chronic illnesses. Recall after every major deadline or exam period you always seem to get sick after? Yep. This is why.

You Keep Waking In The Night

Again, thanks to our good friend cortisol, academic research notes that if present in exorbitant amounts, it can lead to you to being abruptly awoken at 3 or 4am. Although it is normal to have fluctuations in your hormones throughout the evening, disproportional amounts of stimulating neurotransmitters, such as cortisol, contributes to a disruptive sleeping pattern. This in turn leaves you feeling groggy and lacking focus throughout the day.

You Feel Flat And Lacking In Energy

Again due to a biochemical imbalance in the brain, you’re physiologically more likely to feel lackluster and fatigued, as noted in the European Journal of Pharmacology.

Simple tasks feel challenging and you snap easily. As a consequence of the dysfunctions above, you simply don’t have the capacity or patience you usually do—it’s not just your imagination.

Tips To Help Keep Burn Out At Bay


Scientifically proven to reduce feelings of anxiety, depression and to help protect against feeling stressed, meditation has the capacity to change the structure within the brain, the amygdala, which governs your reactivity to stressful environments, Translated, when something stressful happens, you aren't so bothered by it.

Get Some Sleep 

Research shows there is a 37% rise in stress hormone cortisol after only one night of poor sleep. Considering how problematic cortisol is for our mental and physical health, this is definitely not desirable. Reach out for support to an expert if you’re struggling.

Limit Social Media Usage

A recent study found individuals with the highest levels of social media usage had a 66% greater likelihood of depression than those with the lowest. Another scientific paper links fatigue and sleeping problems to social media. Make it easy to regulate your scrolling by downloading an app that monitors and sets usage restrictions on your screen time habit.

Practice Mindfulness

Somewhat of a health buzzword, and commonly misassociated with meditation, the true essence of mindfulness means the practice of self-awareness, and the ability to be present in the moment while taking time for yourself. Multiple studies have proven that practicing various forms of mindfulness help manage and reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress. Even just 10 minutes a day—such as taking your lunch break outside, going to a gym class or walking around the block— can dramatically improve overall wellbeing and positivity.  

*Depression, anxiety and ongoing stress can lead to serious mental health problems. If you need to talk to someone or get some advice, please reach out to Beyond Blue or Lifeline on 131114.

Image credit: Urban List.

Get our top stories direct to your inbox.

Get our top stories direct to your inbox.