What is burnout and how do I avoid it?


You get burnt out when the continuous stress of dealing with a difficult job or situation becomes too much for you.

The most likely candidates for burnout are hard driven, highly committed people who take on too many tasks or try to do too many things. They suddenly lose interest and motivation for what they’re doing.

You’re at risk for burnout if the following are true for you:

  • You’ve been trying to achieve too much
  • You are unable to turn down additional work, commitments or responsibilities
  • You’ve been under intense stress and pressure for a long time
  • You have high standards
  • You don’t like to delegate
  • You’ve been giving others emotional support for a long time
  • You feel guilty when you spend time and money on yourself

Burnout doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process that slowly builds up over a long period of time. Here are some of the most common symptoms of burnout:

  • Feeling of lack of control over commitments
  • Loss of purpose
  • Loss of motivation
  • Detachment from relationships
  • Feeling tired and lethargic
  • Feeling that you’re accomplishing less
  • Increased tendency to think negatively

If you’re feeling unmotivated and disillusioned with life, you need help. Contact a good mental health professional and do some of the stress-management techniques recommended here. At least, take a break. Life is also about fun and pleasure.

How do I avoid burnout?

  • Make sure that you’re still enjoying what you’re doing
  • Repeat to yourself often: I have a right to fun, pleasure and relaxation
  • Get plenty of restful sleep, relaxation and recreation
  • Learn and practice stress-management skills
  • Learn to say ‘no’
  • Constantly re-evaluate your goals and decide what’s important and essential to your enjoyment and appreciation of life
  • Reduce your commitments
  • Follow a healthy diet
  • Use the correct food supplements to support you body and your mind
  • Learn to delegate
  • If others drain your energy, step back and avoid them for a while
  • Exercise moderately, but regularly and choose something you enjoy 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.