Has your body been screaming at you, but you refuse to listen? Your body knows you’re burned out before you do… if you take the time to listen.
Burnout is a phenomenon that (almost) all of us have experienced, but few actually acknowledge. Whether it’s from a demanding career, an overwhelming personal life, or the always-connected digital age, we all feel lethargic and drained at some point in our lives.
While the mental impacts of burnout are real—it affects your productivity, relationships, creativity, and ultimately happiness—the physical effects often go unnoticed. We make excuses or avoid the tough reality.
In this blog post, I’ve got seven ways your body tries to scream at you when it’s time to recharge!
- 7 ways your body is telling you it’s burned out
- 1. Feeling exhausted for no reason
- 2. Can’t concentrate (wired but tired)
- 3. You can’t make a decision
- 4.Trouble sleeping or insomnia
- 5. You start having anxiety or panic attacks
- 6. You have frequent headaches or migraines
- 7. You have digestive problems like constipation, diarrhea, or nausea
- BONUS TIP: You lose your cycle
- The wrap-up – your body knows you’re burned out
7 ways your body is telling you it’s burned out
It doesn’t matter what career you’re in or what type of work you do. We’re all at risk for burnout at some point. Often we look to others and think, ‘Wow, she’s got it all together’ and wonder why we can’t hack it too.
But that’s B.S. As a matter of fact, as I was starting this article I came across a blog post about an influencer taking a sabbatical because she hit rock bottom. (Even though she had been showing up online looking polished, confident, and seemed to have her sh*t together!)
So, truth be told, we’re all struggling with something. And we need to start listening to our bodies – it knows well before we do when we are on the way to burnout.
“If you listen to your body when it whispers to you, you won’t have to hear it yell later”
1. Feeling exhausted for no reason
Our bodies can be quite smart if we take a second to listen to them! When we are burned out, it has a way of letting us know. Often, we feel an overwhelming sense of exhaustion that doesn’t seem to subside even when we take adequate rest.
To boot, when this happens, our motivation tanks, and inspiration dries up with the slightest hint of overload and outside stimulus.
So if you’ve been exhausted all the time for no reason whatsoever, it’s time to start taking things easy and regain some balance in your life – before the burnout takes hold!
When I was headed downhill I could never get rested or ever feel refreshed!
Let this be thy warning…
2. Can’t concentrate (wired but tired)
It can be frustrating coming to the realization that your body knows you’re burned out, even when it feels like your mind hasn’t fully caught up yet. (In this instance, mind over matter is total crap!)
For many people, the red flag that goes up is an inability to concentrate or focus. You know this feeling of being “wired but tired?” When you are exhausted but cannot relax… Yeah, that’s your body sending an SOS – it’s trying to tell you that it needs a break!
Your mind buzzes with unanswered tasks and stray thoughts that wouldn’t stick if you let them. It’s as if your brain has been overstimulated yet can’t keep up with processing any of it.
Things like startling awake in the middle of the night or feeling uncomfortable and unsettled all day long are strong indicators that you need to slow down and listen.
When I was burned out I would be so overwhelmed that I would just stare at my computer, unsure where even to start – it was an awful feeling! (Not to mention my emails piling up, stressing me even further!!!)
There’s no ignoring those flagged signs any longer – it’s time to get off the hamster wheel, reset and prioritize a better balance between work and rest.
3. You can’t make a decision
Maybe you’re never good at making decisions like me, but it’s when we’re unable to decide something — anything, really — that our body is trying to tell us something!
When I was in the burnout freefall I knew it was time to step back when I would stare at my closest, completely unable to decide what to wear that day. Of course, this happens occasionally (I am a girl!), but it’s when it became an everyday occurrence that I realized my brain wasn’t working well.
Being burned out can manifest itself in many ways, such as stretching out the decision-making process and not being able to pick an option – no matter how cute the clothes!
We think, overthink, and worry until a downward spiral… But remember, you have the power and tools to make changes!
4.Trouble sleeping or insomnia
One of the biggest indicators that your body knows it needs a break is when you suddenly find yourself unable to sleep.
Sure, insomnia can often stem from stress, but if you suffer from chronic bouts of sleeplessness and feel like it just won’t give, it’s definitely time for a reset switch!
I know firsthand how it feels to lay awake at night wanting nothing but to SLEEP, and you can’t. This is your body practically screaming for a change!
Try out a new sleep routine, avoid screens at least two hours before bedtime, and cut down on caffeine throughout the day. I even found the sleepy teas to be beneficial during the worst of it!
Find what works for you, then DO IT!
5. You start having anxiety or panic attacks
Anxiety and panic attacks are indicators of emotional turmoil, but they can also be a sign that you’re at risk of physical burnout. (Hello, increased cortisol!)
When your body starts feeling overwhelmed and raising its internal alarm bells, it’s important to check in with yourself and assess what it’s trying to tell you.
Is your heart racing?
Are you breathing heavily?
So if you feel anxious and panicked after a certain activity or time period (and it doesn’t let up!) use these visceral signs as a sign to up your self-care game ASAP!
Not only does this allow you to restore your mental health, but it also gives you an opportunity to take steps toward avoiding physical exhaustion further down the line.
6. You have frequent headaches or migraines
Burnout can present itself as a headache or migraine, and it’s your body’s way of telling you that it needs mental rest!
As a chronic migraine sufferer, I know how miserable this can be! While all stress can’t be avoided (and migraine headaches have other manifestations, too), it’s much easier to get to the root cause with rest.
Versus popping painkillers and expensive medications to get through the day.
When I was heading towards severe burnout I was taking migraine medicine and adderall almost EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. (Never again!)
Yes, we all have headaches from time to time – but if this has become your everyday norm, listen up from a chick whos been there…
Give yourself the time off to relax, de-stress and get back to feeling 100%. (or at least 90%) 😉
7. You have digestive problems like constipation, diarrhea, or nausea
It’s almost like your body knows when you’re burned out. When the piles of work, meetings, and other obligations start to stack up, your gut is usually one of the first places to signal that you’re in over your head. (Hence the gut-brain connection!)
Digestive problems like constipation, diarrhea or nausea can be telltale signs that it’s time to take a break or shift gears with your routine.
Maybe this is TMI (too much information), but I had diarrhea for over 6 months straight as I was trying to recover from burnout. Not only did this TOTALLY suck, but it completely wrecked my gut health, which I am still working on three years later!
Unfortunately, these signs can be easy to ignore in an attempt to muscle through it all; however, it is always wise to listen closely to what your body has to say – after all, it’s trying to keep you healthy amid a stress overload.
BONUS TIP: You lose your cycle
As I just covered, being burned out can affect your body in several ways, but one that many overlook is when women lose their menstrual cycle.
This is your body’s way of telling you there isn’t enough energy for normal activities like reaching ovulation. Your body shuts down functioning for everything that is not absolutely critical for survival.
When it knows you’re already pushing yourself to the limit, your body takes drastic measures—like impacting your hormones.
This leaves you feeling depleted and exhausted from just trying to live your day-to-day life.
So if your period decides to take a vacation for a few weeks or months (or years in my case!) it might be a sign that it’s time for you to take one too and get away from the stress of life.
Not to mention ongoing amenorrhea affects brain and bone health in the long term.
Note: I lost ALL of my hormones due to chronic stress & illness, and it can happen fast! (screen shot of my cortisol below…)
The wrap-up – your body knows you’re burned out
In conclusion, it’s important to be self-aware and act when you start feeling the signs of burnout. Identifying your own triggers and taking preventive steps can be the difference between having a full-blown burnout or just a minor setback.
By understanding how your body knows when you’re burned out and identifying warning signs early on, you can avoid more serious burnouts in the future.
So, have you experienced any of these symptoms? What did you learn? I want to know! If we look after ourselves first and foremost, not only will our bodies thank us but our minds, emotions, relationships, and productivity too!
Let’s rise up again together and try to balance working hard and looking after our well-being.
Take care of YOU!