Are You Tired Or Burned Out?

Americans are exhausted. It’s not a surprise to many of us that there’s a study that found nearly 40% of Americans wake up still feeling sleepy. 

 I know that most of us can really relate to this. It’s like our energy levels have risen and fallen in waves that are sometimes too inexplicable. There are mornings that I can barely open my eyes by 9:30 AM and there are times that I feel so energetic early in the morning with great levels of excitement. The question is, are we really just tired, or is there something more serious behind those days that we lack in energy?

What is burnout?

Burnout is defined as the mental and physical collapse caused by overworking and stress. While fatigue is also a sign of burnout, it can also manifest along with physical and mental symptoms.

The difference is that when you’re just plain tired, you’re able to function even though you’re not in your full potential. But when you’re experiencing burnout, you are no longer able to function effectively on a personal and even on a professional level. It can even feel extreme, almost like you’re tired physically and emotionally.

Symptoms of burnout

  1. Physical and emotional exhaustion. When you’re experiencing burnout, not only do you feel physical exhaustion but it includes feeling very drained and depleted emotionally–almost like you’re feeling depressed. You may also experience having difficulty in sleeping even though you’re already tired. Chances are, you’re also being forgetful and your immune system is suffering. 
  2. Detachment. You may start to feel negative, disconnected from other people, and complacent. Even people who seem so passionate about work, family and everything else can still feel this emptiness when they’re feeling burned out.
  3. Ineffectiveness. You feel distracted, so you are not being as productive as you normally are. You may start to wonder if what you’re doing is okay or what it’s really for. 

What causes burnout?

Burnout is simply caused by chronic stress that has built up over time. It’s our body’s way of saying that it needs a break, so that’s what we should give it.

The good news is that one or two nights of not being able to sleep properly won’t make you feel burnout. However, when you’re feeling too much stress over work-related issues, emotional negativity, or even social stressors and it continues over a long period of time, your body and mind might start to feel like it can’t keep up. 

How do you overcome burnout?

  • Practice self-care. Go easy on yourself and don’t overwork. Learn how to take breaks before your mind and body shut down on you. Take bubble baths and use face masks to help relieve stress– or whatever makes you feel better, go for it. Recovering from a burnout takes time, some people take more than just a day to get back on their feet.
  • Set priorities. People who don’t prioritize are prone to burnouts. They start to feel overwhelmed after long periods of juggling from one task to another until it starts to feel endless and tiring. When you learn how to prioritize, you can proceed from one task to another without feeling like you have so many things to do. 
  • Get some sleep. This is very simple, the best form of rest is sleep and you need it!

Life can be very hectic at times and we all deal with stress on a daily basis. If we don’t learn how to take care of ourselves despite our busy schedule, we are only going to make it worse for our physical and mental health. In order to deal with this positively, we must learn to be mindful of taking breaks when the going gets too tough.

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105 Comments

  • It took me nearly a week to recover from burnout. It was way stressful because I could no longer keep up from work but I knew I needed rest.

  • Thanks for this. I didn’t know I was already experiencing this. I kept getting colds too because I feel really exhausted to the point that I can no longer function.

  • Andrea Klein says:

    Maybe this is what my sister has been feeling lately. She finds it really hard to get up in the morning but claims it’s not exactly depression. I’m going to show this to her.😔

  • Katie Rodgers says:

    Self-care really is important. I also learned it the hard way that when you’re tired, rest. Never assume that your body will always function well even under pressure.

    • Meghan Medina says:

      I agree, learn to rest. It’s never good to overwork.

  • Myra Sullivan says:

    Sometimes even when you’re prioritizing, you’re still going to have a hard time juggling tasks. 😣

  • Lauren Knight says:

    Spa nights are very important for me. An hour in the tub with warm water, candles, and a book! Takes away all the stress.

  • Alexis Weber says:

    Spa nights are very important for me. An hour in the tub with warm water, candles, and a book! Takes away all the stress.

  • Sharon Reese says:

    I could totally relate to this on a different level. It mostly happens to me when I’m very busy at work and I forget to rest and have fun even just for a while. What I do is just have a little but of alone time to clear my head for a day or two, then I feel better.

    • Leslie Smith says:

      That’s what I do too. If I could travel alone even for a few days, I do that.

  • We all deserve a break sometimes. It’s very unhealthy to always be focusing on our career and disregarding our mental and physical health.😐

  • Amy Bailey says:

    Even with once a week of hanging out with friends and family, you can stop burnouts from happening.

  • Jenny Robinette says:

    The annoying thing about burnout is, it affects you physically and affects your linguistic skills.

  • Isabella Carroll says:

    Exercise helps me. Just getting out for a walk can be refreshing.

  • Erica Ervin says:

    Yes, I am in the beginning stages of recovering from my own burnout from overstressing myself about life.

  • Victoria Houston says:

    I realized that I was burnt out and I took a vacation. Finally, I rescheduled my daily timetable.

  • Barbara Caraballo says:

    When I am feeling burnout I take a break from what is causing the burnout and refocus on another goal I actually can make some headway on to feel like I am still moving forward somewhere in my life. When I am at an impasse with everything at once, that’s really tough. Then I just keep at it all a little at a time until something gives.

  • April McEntee says:

    So burnout is basically stress related to work only?

  • Ofelia Ruley says:

    Thank you so much for this content. I hope I can incorporate all the advice I’m a mess. Love you girlie. 🥰

  • Cathy Daniel says:

    I think you might have just saved my life and translated what my friends and family have been trying to tell me for years

  • Paulette Wheeler says:

    Burnout, and residual burnout, are very real and very important issues. I have been through both. In my experience overly stressful workplaces typically have high turnover rates. Sometimes they offer unusually high pay, trying to attract employees with money rather than actually addressing what’s going on.

  • Charles Barton says:

    I dropped out of my research masters course a few weeks back and am considering leaving science all together. All this sounds very familiar to me. 🙁

  • Victoria George says:

    This is so good! This has validated my feelings, I have reached burnout too many times. I”m only 28, but its good to know how to recognize once you have reached burnout. Balance is the key to everything.

  • Erma Sparks says:

    Thank you, you have given me a lot to think about. I believe that I hit that wall just last week, after 4 years I went from up and coming to trash. I cant sleep, I shake, I want to go to work but the thought of it makes me want to vomit. I am having repeated stress episodes, yesterday I was able to count twenty-one of them. I do not like this.

  • God you so tricking nailed so on the spot ! Doesn’t help me any i suffer from both and want to work but know if I try it just intensifies

  • Jackie Chavez says:

    The stigma on burn outs is still high. Many people suffer from the illness but its not recognized as a serious illness. Makes it harder to recover and get the right treatment. Rather break two legs than getting a burn out.

  • Doreen Carlson says:

    Burnout isn’t being tired. I recently started having panic attacks related to work. I had to stay in bed for a full week because I was scared to go to work. You might think you know burn out, until you really know what it is.

  • Johnathan Gibson says:

    I burnt out after taking comprehensive exams during my PhD. I hurt so much. I screamed so loud in my dreams. My boyfriend used to freak out for my screams.

  • Rosemarie Gibbs says:

    Everyone is bipolar. You have good cogent days and bad days when you had to deal with a situation that got you upset. Even reading things on fb or twitter can often get you paranoid and fearful. How good for people is these boards of friends you don’t really know.

  • Judy Robertson says:

    I’d say it took me closer to three years to get out. But really before that it had been building for a long time. Recovering a little and then taking some other hit due to the circumstances. Recently another stressful situation set it off again. But I recover faster now, like there is more to fall back on, and also I have more coping strategies and recognition. But damn it’s a long steep climb. Mostly I feel like all I need is peace of mind, meaningful physical exercise, aestethic and sensual stimulation, and the company of people that know me well, and where there is low probability of conflict, dilemmas or emotionally stressful situations that need dealing with over time.

  • Cecilia Little says:

    I’ve been burned out for a little over 2 months and you couldn’t be more on point. You’re an angel. Thank you!

  • Diane Martin says:

    I have burnout from working in customer service and also cause my life sucks in general.

  • Nellie Mills says:

    I have burnout from working in customer service and also cause my life sucks in general.

  • thanks for the great info! i burned out at work a couple of weeks ago. i kept pushing through mental, physical, and sleep fatigue until i got to work one day and didn’t recognise the people there. i’m trying to rebuild again now.

  • Clark Pierce says:

    If psychology continues down this path, every person will have some diagnosis. Even Freud worried about attaching diagnoses to normal aspects of life.

  • Hazel Barker says:

    Capitalism is the biggest cause of burnout but until we accept that, we just won’t move on as a species. capitalism keeps us at the very bottom of Maslov’s Hierarchy… forever.

  • Julie Shaw says:

    This text on burnout is such a timely and needed discussion. My greatest lesson learned from this article? Even when you recognize that you are burned out, it lasts longer than we think.

  • Kathryn Matthews says:

    I am on board. With my experience I thought it was depression however my sister called it when she said PTSD. I walked away from my job and a company that I loved due to a supervisor with too much power. It’s hard to own this experience and grow and be stronger but I am determined, even more so now that I’m informed.

  • Ryan Cruz says:

    These situations and symptoms are strikingly familiar, this article made me realize i dont want to return to my current employer

  • April Henry says:

    I burned out really slowly over about 3-4 years but when the actual end point happened it was over a couple months and I am still recovering after 2 years. I still cry once in a while. I hate seeing or speaking with my old coworkers it makes me go into overload.

  • Tam Sturdivant says:

    The segment on burnout really makes you think. Work overload being so low on the list makes you realize if your spirits are dying you won’t be able to perservere. Cause think about when you 100% believe in something and are focused. You could overwork yourself to extreme amounts and somehow still maintain the will/energy to keep going. Not to sound too new agey, but It’s really important to be In a place with good energy and good people.

  • Eloise Ferris says:

    I believe this is why I walked off of my job in the middle of my work day and have not returned to work in over a year…. strange I never considered this is the reason that I’ve also become sort of a shut in also. thanks for this article. I feel its provided some very useful insight into what might be happening with me internally at this time. I hope that becoming aware of this might help put me back into my life again. I used to love my occupation more then any other part of my life. Since leaving I’ve been considering a career change. Perhaps I should be looking in the direction of professional help instead.

  • Brittany West says:

    Thanks for explaining this. You explained my situation perfectly. It’s taken me two years to recover, I just quit work and couldn’t do anything. I blamed myself for being lazy, worthless, and a failure. I’ve had all the physical and mental symptoms you mentioned. I’ll need the reminder that what happened to me is real and not rooted in a character flaw. Thank you so much!

  • How do you tel the difference between depression and burn out? I always feel tired and like I have no energy but is this burn out or depression? I’ve already taken some time off but it hasn’t made any difference.

  • Esther Devine says:

    I believe you can have burnout due to the many things that can happen to you just in life that keep piling up. At some point something happens that is just too much and you crash, You feel like you are backed into a corner with no energy because you have went down so many paths with no results and no support from the people who were supposed to be there for you. I have had so many unfortunate experiences. I am way beyond burnout.

  • Perry Hogan says:

    I have PTSD and now I’m dealing with burnout and it’s very similar! I’m in therapy, taking medication, and it’s not helping with the burnout. My PTSD was somewhat in remission for years and now I’m right back in it. Waking up screaming, panic attacks, stomach issues, can’t sleep or sleep for long periods of time. I need my job to pay for my treatment though so it feels like a vicious cycle. I pay a therapist to tell me to leave my job every week lol.

    • Hope you’ll feel better soon! It does get better… i don’t know to what extent, but definitely be better than that

  • Karen Abeyta says:

    How do I heal from burnout. I disconnect and enjoy the things I like such as social media along with horror and sci-fi movies. Oh and long walks help too when things aren’t as hectic outside at certain hours.

  • Rosalia Russell says:

    I find it hard to recognise and its not until I get a migraine or am physically sick that I realise I am suffering from burnout. I woke up being sick today so this article came on just the right day – thanks

  • Hilda Dillon says:

    I love what you said about burnout. Sometimes I feel lazy if I take ‘me’ time, so it’s nice to have reassurance that it’s a good thing! Thanks .

  • Zoraida Martin says:

    Sick and tired of feeling constantly tired! For two years I’ve been struggling with obsessive negative thoughts and I’m finally considering taking SSRIs because I’m so tired of dealing with this. However, I’m TERRIFIED of having unexpected long-term (permanent) side effects. Any advice? How common is it to have long-term side effects (personality changes, sex drive changes, headaches, etc.?) There are some pretty scary stories out there on the internet!

  • Andrea Jones says:

    I struggle alot with feeling burnt out. I’ve noticed that when I’m being out, my anxiety and depression tend to get worse and I isolate myself. To handle burn out, I like to color, or I go for a walk. Watching a movie or too helps too. Just have to make sure i do something that doesn’t involve alot of brain power.

  • Shawn Hart says:

    I’m in a state of confusion. I can’t express my emotions and I cry at unexpected moments. Sometimes in public too. I have anxiety and I tried to build up my courage gradually. I don’t know whether I’m an introvert or ambivert. Sometimes I can build myself up and say something, but sometimes not. I’m getting really tired of having to build up my courage. I just want to get rid of this feeling. Am I burnt out? What do I do???

  • Tammy Fuller says:

    I feel as if I never get enough done, even if I am doing something I have been meaning to do and know it is productive. I could be doing whatever the productive thing is, and still not like the way I’m spending my time, even if I’m enjoying myself. I write down my weekly agenda and often make timed to-do lists and get a lot down, but sometimes when I do this I still feel as if every minute I am living is a waste. I don’t mean that to sound in a suicidal way. Hopefully you haven’t anything similar to this before. Thanks.

  • Mandy Jordan says:

    what does it mean if you’re constantly burnt out? even if i dont have anything to do or any dead lines, i always feel like i should be doing something but im unable to properly do them. is this common? do most people feel this sometimes or is something wrong?

  • Ways dealing with burnout, proper work pause, cut caffeine, processed foods, cut cable media, less screen time, take daytrips, simple get away overnight, more sleep-rest.

  • Mary Fisher says:

    Thanks for this article, what I do is retreat and I mean retreat from everything you know and around you, find time on your own and just pause your mind and body, just think by then of yourself and save yourself, because we are all survivors.

  • Loved reading this. Could you do something that would help guide a self awareness journey into coming to realizations about what our personal values and goals are?

  • Laverne Pollard says:

    I completely eliminate the factor that burns me out for a time period depending on what it is. If it’s work, I take a week or 10 day break. If it is a relationship, I stay off it for a while. Later, I reassess whether the relationship is worth my time and energy…

  • Connie McMahon says:

    yeah last time i suffered from it while i was solving physics numerical for continuous period of 4 hrs solving numericals and then i recovered by simply eating my meal which i didnt eat in the morning. So food was my antidote for burn out.

  • Keely Morgan says:

    When I am feeling burnt out I take a break from what is causing the burnout & refocus on another goal I actually can make some headway on to feel like I am still moving forward somewhere in my life. When I am at an impasse with everything at once, thats really tough. Then I just keep at it all a little at a time until something gives. Thanks & Happy Holidays!

  • My reoccurring theme is”from ashes into flame”, I care too much for others band try to help to the point I’m burnt out and exhausted. I then lose motivation to complete my own goals and have to recover then correct my path and continue. Rest and lots of sleep, being forgiving of myself for being tired and basically just do nothing and be still. That is the hardest to force myself to relax, rest and recover. I gradually return to my usual activities such as study and social interactions.

  • I was in a burnout last week. the thing that helped me was watching the movie Eurotrip and laughing so hard. i felt really better once the movie ended.

  • Ben Tucker says:

    Burn out is very serious. A few days sleep or one month off usually doesn’t fix burn out. Those are just bandaids for systemic and pervasive problems. If you get back to your job/situation your next burn outs come faster and leave slower. Fits of rage and crying at inopportuned times , constant colds and sore throats, people who care about you will usually complain and alert you to your folly. This life style leads to depression, chronic fatigue syndrome and other autoimmune deficiency diseases and heart attacks. Oh yes, poor relationships and poverty. Mind yourselves people!

  • Estelle Doriss says:

    After Severe Burn Out followed by a partial recovery and burn out again I saw the habit and decided to Do Nothing until I felt up to it. Asking what is important and what I wanted to do and started doing it. feeling better but not rushing the process; a new person is emerging.

  • Dawn Breedlove says:

    Thank you for this. I am a business owner who has worked super hard past three years and was obsessing and always beating myself up for too long. I was always thinking too much about what could go wrong. Recently I have had really bad anxiety attacks and it was all from the complete exhaustion. I am now on the road to recovering and I am making it a priority to take care of myself and reduce stress. I am changing my way of thinking. There is no need to create extra stress through worry. I know I will get back to a new and improved self, and this is going to make me stronger.

  • Your preaching to the choir. I needed this .Overall, My life is ok. I have 2 jobs, a small business, romance, sports and possibly returning to school. But I guess I’m just trying to think about what’s on the horizon and being prepared for it. But thanks anyway. P:S: I took notes reading this.

  • Louise Jones says:

    I’m now in a burn out, that’s why I’m here now .. I was feeling everything that you have mentioned and i didn’t know what’s wrong with me until someone told me about the name of this situation.

  • Stewart Copeland says:

    What I did was, I realized that I was burnt-out and I took a vacation. Finally, I rescheduled my daily timetable

  • Lisa Hunter says:

    I’m just burn out and done depression has took over my life and at 30 I feel as I ran out of time because of my own bad decisions as an adolescent .

  • Lorraine Yarbrough says:

    I am currently in burnout I believe. I cannot seem to do 1/10th of what I was doing a year ago. I am sooo tired and am encouraged by seeing that I may be able to recover. Thanks so much!

  • Evelyn Griffith says:

    Feeling exactly this right now. It’s been 6 months ongoing. It’s been a long journey and I have a long road ahead of me. It’s a struggle. My children keep me going. Always…I started medication to help with symptoms of depression and anxiety. 2 weeks in and my panic attacks or whatever they are, have decreased.

  • Thelma Scott says:

    I’m stuck at university and I cannot take a break… What do you suggest? I’m burnt out and I don’t have an interest in anything.

  • Listening to your body and putting aside time for yourself to recover can go a long way. Allowing yourself to recover from burnouts and staying motivated is an excellent way to live full out!

  • Margaret Yancy says:

    Yes, I can relate. I am in the beginning stages of recovering from my own burnout from overstressing myself about life .

  • Yes, I had this experience when I worked on cruise ships more than year with very short breaks. It’s really terrible for mental and physical health! Be careful. Keep balance in all!

  • Mary Speicher says:

    Tiredness? Okay. I get that but I’m not sure I understand the difference between burnout and depression.

  • Turn off the computer. Go to bed early. Sleep as much as possibly. Stop rushing. Only use the phone for necessary calls or messages. Plan every little day-to-day-action beside work in advance. Breathe. — My emergency exit plan for now.

  • Florence Welch says:

    Accept the situation as how it is. Visualize it as how you want it to be. Take massive action to change it!

  • Ricardo Aguilar says:

    im not stressed, but for the past three days i have been like non-stop trying to grasp extremely hard concepts (successfully) like theory of relativity, space time, time dilation, all the dimensions up until the tenth, and many others. I think I thought about it too hard, because I feel like puking, plus, I have been so obsessed because I have ADHD that I haven’t been getting adequate sleep either :/ when will this go away?? I need my brain back smh -.-

  • Melissa Reeves says:

    Yes, I have been burned out. Tp recover, I slept and detached from social media and the phone. It was necessary to take those steps.

    • Matthew Ramos says:

      It is a shame you have to feel guilty for not participating in social media or turning your phone off.

  • Minnie Johnson says:

    The annoying thing about burn out it affect you physically and affects your linguistic skills . Exercise helps me. Just getting out for a walk can be refreshing.

  • Lisa Prevost says:

    Worked my a** off for about 2 years (10-12 hours of work every day), I’ve reached the second highest position in the company, which is exactly below the CEO and then I just hit a wall. I had no energy to work anymore, no motivation to continue doing what I was doing and I didn’t know how to fix that… or maybe I didn’t even wanted to.

  • Judy Honeycutt says:

    burnout is such a complex form of stress that it’s hard to explain in nearly 3 minutes, these are just the basics. And it depends on the situation that caused it.

  • Elaine Blair says:

    My big thing is writing and I just try to do it and it doesn’t seem to happen and if I can’t write one chapter of a story a weekend I know I’m tapped.

  • I am starting to recover from severe burnout… what helps me is working for 90 minutes they sitting or laying down… 15 minutes then work another 90 minutes… 8 to 9 hours sleep minimum… two full days off per week… do nothing but rest or read… limit TV or stimulus… its helping a lot .

  • Salvador Mcdonald says:

    I was burned out big time in college. After graduating I took time to get back into art and painting, and I gave myself the chance to get into game design and 3d modeling. I didn’t ever feel guilty. That seems foreign to me to associate that with fun.

  • Nikki Wilson says:

    This is so accurate! Sometimes we don’t realize what we put ourselves through until someone else points it out to us. Thank you! I Appreciate your posts.

  • Lisa Blumer says:

    Thank you so much for this 🙂🙏 I am going through these right now smh …

  • Alison Hunter says:

    This is so me right now, thank you for the tips. I guess “me time” that’s what I need to overcome this… Thank you a bunch 😊 Have a productive day ^^

  • Debra Philbrook says:

    You hit all my bases. I felt I was burned out and have rested for 7 months. Just recently have I been able to put forth more effort. Job change was part of the answer and REST was indeed necessary. Some jobs will eat you up and spit you out and attest it to productivity as they pile 4 full-time jobs on 1 person. Funny thing is asked if I could​ take on more and I did say “NO”. They assigned them to me anyway. I have a better job now, called self-employed.

  • Carroll Thornton says:

    I try to fit in what I like to do but I swear my sleep schedule kills me. I need rest to keep me from having seizures but I need to work too .

  • Brenda Scott says:

    Thank you so much for this article… Till now I wasn’t able to figure out what I have been going through… You have given me a clear picture of what it is I am going through… Thank you so much…

  • Stephanie Porter says:

    Great input. I’ve been experiencing all of these for about 2 years now. No wonder i keep having mental/emotional breakdowns

  • Great article. There are tons of times that I felt this, but I always ruled it out as “stress”.

  • Jadwiga Mendoza says:

    I guess I’m just tired. I’ll rest before it even turns into something like this. It would be really bad if I had to deal with something like this.

  • Ruth Brown says:

    This is so accurate it hurts. Now I understand how I feel for the past few days. I thought I was just about to get sick.😰

  • Michelle Little says:

    The definition of burnout is honestly ME this week. I felt like my life was crumbling down and I felt so tired. I had to take a week away from work and really pick my self up!! 😭

  • Linda Smock says:

    think the reason why a lot of Americans are tired because they’re too focused on building their careers and most of them just live and die to pay the bills.😥

      • Kirsten Brown says:

        We need to stop wanting more when we already have enough!

  • Mariel Rogers says:

    That’s a good question. On some days, I feel like I need a month of break from everything.

  • Grace Schlueter says:

    Being tired and burnout is so close to each other and it can be really hard to find the fine line between the two things. Just rest, do something leisurely and don’t forget to have fun.

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