I could point you to a million and one surveys and studies showing an incredible number of workers are burnt out at the moment. But I'm guessing you probably don't need much hard evidence to convince you.
Millions of people aren't quitting their jobs every month because they feel energized and effective at work. Plus, for many of us all you need to see that a lot of folks are struggling with motivation at the moment is to look around your own office or your living room.
That many people are at teetering on the edge of serious burnout right now is a given. Are you one of them? Entrepreneurs are a notoriously bullheaded lot, which has its upsides, but it can also mean they barrel through warning signs that they're on the edge of collapse. For these types low energy is just a reason for greater willpower, and cynicism isn't a widely cited symptom of burnout but a way of life.
But here's the thing. You may be able to white knuckle through the emotional signs of impending burnout, but according to a recent New York Times article from Melinda Wenner Moyer, your body doesn't lie. If you ignore the mental symptoms of burnout, your mounting distress can start to show up as physical problems. It's not always clear that these bodily issues are due to your chronic work stress, but according to the doctors Wenner Moyer spoke to they're often signs you're about to hit a breaking point with your burnout.
My two most popular posts last year, which each received double or triple the number of views as any of my other articles, were both about how to get better sleep. So I'm guessing many of you out there are already experiencing this symptom. You may just not realize it's due to burnout.
"Research suggests that chronic stress interferes with the complicated neurological and hormonal system that regulates sleep. It's a vicious cycle, because not sleeping throws this system even more out of whack. If you've noticed you're unable to sleep at night, that could be a sign that you're experiencing burnout," Lotte Dyrbye, a doctor who studies burnout at the Mayo Clinic, tells the Times.
"I realized I was sleeping every day after work -- and I was like, 'What is wrong with me?' but it was actually burnout," one doctor tells Wenner Moyer. If that sounds like you, the solution might not be yet another nap (though yay to naps!) but a hard look at the deeper roots of your burnout.
3. Changes in eating habits
Can't stop yourself from reaching for that bag of chips in the evening? Or maybe you have the opposite problem. Maybe nothing much just seems very appetizing at the moment. The issue may not be your stomach, it may be the two years of work/life insanity we've all just endured.
"Research suggests, too, that stress hormones can affect appetite, making people feel less hungry than usual when they're under a lot of stress, and more hungry than usual when that stress alleviates," Wenner Moyer explains.
Exhaustion and insomnia seem like natural enough consequences of chronic stress, but digestive distress is another common but less-recognized symptom.
"One study of people in Sweden suffering from exhaustion disorder -- a medical condition similar to burnout -- found that 67 percent reported experiencing nausea, gas or indigestion," reports Wenner Moyer.
The same study mentioned above found a similar percentage (65 percent) of burnt out Swedes experienced headaches.
If any of these issues cause a light bulb moment that maybe you've been ignoring your steadily building burnout too long, what should you do about it? That depends on the underlying causes of your burnout, but experts have suggested everything from extended breaks, to writing exercises, to making time for hobbies, to a greater focus on your community and helping others.
The solution to your distress may be personal, but you'll never find it if you don't first admit your sleepless nights and Tums addiction are actually just burnout in disguise.