6 Habits That Are Making You Burnt Out (Without Realizing It)

Have you been feeling as though lately, your hard work always seems to wear you down?

Have you been feeling more and more exhausted? And worse still—has this exhaustion seeped into areas of your life outside of work?

You might be engaging in habits that are bringing you closer to burn out, even if you do not realize it. 

What is burn-out?

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) defines burn-out as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”  In other words, it is a response to prolonged job stress. This applies whether your work is at the office, in school, or at home (such as if housework or caring for family members is your main job).

Although it is an “occupational phenomenon,” rather than a medical condition, the struggles that come with it are very real. It is important to be mindful of the causes and habits that may lead to burn out, to best care for your own mental health (Scott, 2020; World Health Organization, 2019).

Here are 6 habits that are making you burnt out (without realizing it).

1. Neglecting your physical health

Do you forgo proper sleep? Or do you perhaps skip a few meals here and there? These can snowball into worse conditions, and worse practices. Skipping a few meals may turn into losing your appetite altogether and weight loss. A few sleepless nights may turn into chronic nightly insomnia. 

Lack of proper sleep and nutrition can lead to a weakened physical state and immune system, which can then also cause other physical symptoms of burnout. 

It is important to address signs of trouble with sleep and appetite early on, and ensure that you get enough rest, nutrition, and exercise to help prevent your stress from worsening into burnout (Carter, 2013; Scott, 2020).

2. Allowing negative feelings to fester

It is normal to sometimes feel nervous, sad, or angry. It is, however, important to take note of persistent anxiety, sadness or hopelessness, as well as irritability or tension with other people. Mild symptoms of these may become increasingly serious as you approach burnout. 

Similarly with physical difficulties such as insomnia, if these negative feelings are suppressed or left unaddressed, they can accumulate into severe burnout. It is important to manage these early on before they worsen (Carter, 2013).

3. Not taking breaks

As previously stated, burnout occurs from prolonged stress with work. This may happen when you work harder and harder, forgetting to take breaks in the process.

You may be doing so because you feel pressured by external forces, or are personally driven to achieve success. But if you keep working yourself to the bone without any proper breaks, you may be putting yourself in danger of burn out. 

Taking a vacation might bring you some temporary relief, but it is more ideal to take regular breaks from work, and try to recharge (Scott, 2020).

4. Keeping your problems to yourself

Burnout has also been traced to working conditions that cause stress, such as

unreasonable time pressure and workload expectations, generally unfair treatment, lack of role clarity, and lack of communication and support from a manager.

If you feel as though you are being treated unfairly in your workplace, or if what is expected of you is unclear, then it would be good for you to discuss these issues with your manager, supervisor, or a trustworthy person of authority that can help you.

Keeping these issues to yourself and tolerating poor work conditions will likely lead to burnout. It is important to communicate these problems with the appropriate person. While this task can seem daunting, it is indeed possible to raise your concerns in a professional, diplomatic and polite manner (Scott, 2020).

5. Staying in the wrong job

Sometimes, the main problem may turn out to be that you have been feeling stuck or trapped in the wrong position, or even the wrong job. Clarity of your current roles (as previously mentioned), can help you figure this out.

It is possible that your current job or role doesn’t provide the right learning opportunities for you, or the career growth that you desire. Perhaps it doesn’t challenge you enough in aspects that you are interested in improving on. You may even be overqualified for your current position, and are simply lacking stimulation or a chance to flourish. 

We may not always be at liberty to choose which jobs we want, but sometimes, assessing your needs and exploring options may lead to greater fulfillment, or at least shed light on how best to proceed from your current situation (Brennan, 2020; Scott, 2020).

6. Neglecting personal life

In constantly working hard and pushing yourself, you may have neglected your personal life.

By directing all your time and energy toward work, you may grow weary and burnt out from the monotony and constant exposure to the same environment—and people—that only make you think of more work.

Making it a point to set aside time for your personal life—relationships, personal hobbies and interests, and even me-time, is essential for your mental health. Attending to your personal life is part of taking a break from your work and recharging. Otherwise, you may grow increasingly cynical about your work environment and the people you work with as you move closer to burnout (Brennan, 2020; Carter, 2013; Scott, 2020).

Concluding Remarks

Do any of these habits resonate with you? And on the flipside, have you found your own ways to prevent or combat burnout?

Although burnout is not defined as a medical condition, a qualified mental health professional can help you overcome it. Please do not hesitate to reach out to one for professional guidance. 


Brennan, D. (2020, December 3). Burnout: 3 signs to look for. WebMD. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/burnout-symptoms-signs#091e9c5e82094cf3-1-3 

Carter, S. B. (2013, November 26). The tell tale signs of burnout … do you have them? Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/high-octane-women/201311/the-tell-tale-signs-burnout-do-you-have-them 

Scott, E. (2020, March 20). How to watch for signs of burnout in your life. Verywell Mind. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/stress-and-burnout-symptoms-and-causes-3144516#toc-signs-and-symptoms 

World Health Organization. (2019, May 28). Burn-out an “Occupational phenomenon”: International Classification of Diseases. World Health Organization. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news/item/28-05-2019-burn-out-an-occupational-phenomenon-international-classification-of-diseases 

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