How to Recognize Burnout—and Beat It

February 21, 2024

For the text version of this infographic, read on.


The World Health Organization now recognizes burnout as an occupational phenomenon.

89% of employees say they've experienced burnout in the past year. Of those workers, 27% said they feel burned out “all of the time.”

54% of employees say they feel overworked

39% report being exhausted

41% are considering handing in their resignation

37% say their employer is asking too much of them


What Burnout Brings with It

Burnout is a problem on its own, but research suggests that it’s also associated with:



-Coronary heart disease


Burnout and Unhealthy Eating

In a study, working adults experiencing burnout and exhaustion were more vulnerable to uncontrolled eating, emotional eating, and a higher intake of calories.

Research suggests workplace weight-management programs should incorporate ways to assess the effects of exhaustion and workload on eating behaviors and exercise.


Stress and resilience expert Paula Davis was a real estate lawyer who burned out in her field, so she knows how it feels. She says to look out for the “big three” signs:

Chronic physical and emotional exhaustion

There is no specific length of time on this, but if you can look back over the last few months and see that you felt this way more often than not, you may be burning out.

A sense of cynicism

Everyone is bugging you; everyone rubs you the wrong way. You feel less empathy for others, including your colleagues, clients, or patients.

A sense of ineffectiveness

The first two lead to this. You can't see a path for yourself in this company or this field, no matter what you do.

Other symptoms that may come up are:

A lack of downtime

You’re always “on” and you can’t separate yourself from your work.

A lack of enthusiasm

You can’t summon energy for things you used to be excited about.

Outsize responses

Someone makes a level-1 request of you and you have a level-15 reaction. Although people can hide many signs of burnout, this one is evident to the people around you.

Physical problems

You experience headaches, stomachaches, colds, and flu, especially if you don't normally get sick a lot.

What you can do

Davis emphasizes that burnout needs to be confronted by the organization as well as the individual.

On an organizational level:

Be transparent

Be clear and open with employees about where things stand and what is expected of them. Ambiguity is a burnout accelerant, says Davis.

Give feedback

We all want to know where we stand, so give feedback frequently—much more than every year or every six months.

Give recognition

This can be a very informal note or conversation with a boss or a peer, but do point out when people do well.

Grant autonomy

Give employees a choice when you can. Can they work from home a few days a week? Come in at a different time? Skip a nonessential meeting?

On a personal level:

Remember your control

Remind yourself where you have a measure of control—even if it’s just your reaction to someone—and take that action as soon as possible.

Track small wins

Write down each step you are taking to reach a goal, no matter how small, such as, “Made the first phone call to get that project started.”

If you’re far gone

If you feel you’re too exhausted to try these, talk to someone, be it a trusted mentor or boss, or a doctor or mental health professional. Tell the person exactly what’s going on and don’t gloss over it. The sooner you catch it, the more you can help yourself or find the support you need.


Get Your Sleep

A good night’s sleep is critical to fighting stress and burnout. Sleep deprivation can lower problem-solving and thinking skills, memory, patience, and attention span.

Mindfulness Matters

Engaging in mindfulness practices, specifically meditation, resulted in significant reduction of burnout and improvement in resilience for teachers, according to one study.


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American Psychological Association (2021), Speaking of Psychology: Why we’re burned out and what to do about it.

Cedars-Sinai (2020), Good Sleep in Times of Stress.

Brandstätter, V. et al. (2016) Motivational Incongruence and Well-Being at the Workplace: Person-Job Fit, Job Burnout, and Physical Symptoms. Frontiers In Psychology.

Davis-Laack, P.,(2020), “Is it Stress or is it Burnout?”, Stress & Resilience Institute.

Gallup (2020), Employee Burnout, Causes and Cures.

Koutsimani, P. & Montgomery, A., et al. (2019), The Relationship Between Burnout, Depression and Anxiety: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in Psychology.

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Microsoft (2021), World Trend Index.

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