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12 Hidden Signs of Work From Home Burnout

How are you enjoying working in your PJs?

I bet it’s very comfortable.

Now, how’s your work-life balance going? Oh, Wait. It’s your WORK!

It’s saying,” Pfft your work-life balance”! Oops!

In these unprecedented times of the pandemic, work from home seems to have become the new norm.

While many of you are breathing a sigh of relief at the absence of exhausting daily commutes, the majority of who find themselves in this work-from-home situation aren’t particularly coping well.

Past studies have recorded significantly higher levels of stress in work-from-home employees compared to their office colleagues. 

Add to that the new stress of living through a pandemic, record unemployment, and job insecurity. And I can only sympathize with you if you have children to manage at home.

Once the novelty of working from home wears off and you find yourself juggling with all of its different challenges, your work-from-home becomes more of a panic work experience.

Continue panic working for some time and you are sure to hit a point, drenched with complete exhaustion, and unable to cope with the stress any further. 

Once that happens, know that you are experiencing an occupational phenomenon, now defined by the WHO as “burnout”.

What is Burnout?

Mayo Clinic describes job burnout as “a special type of work-related stress — a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.”

Although the main cause of burnout is unclear to the medical community, it can seriously affect your physical and mental health. “Burnout” however isn’t considered a medical diagnosis.

According to a recent Monster.com survey, 51% of workers said they’ve experienced burnout related to working from home due to COVID-19, and 52% said they have no plans to take time off to decompress.

However motivated you may be to continue working your butt off, there is ultimately a limit to how many hours you can sustainably work in a day. After which exhaustion and overwhelmedness will ensue, making it difficult to cope with.

Burnout doesn’t happen overnight but creeps up on you. If you are able to address the subtle signs and symptoms early on, you can prevent a major breakdown. Ignore them and you’ll eventually burn out.


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These are the 12 major signs that you might be experiencing burnout at your work-from-home.

12 Signs of Work-From-Home Burnout

1. Lack of a Work-Life Structure

There was a clear distinction between work life and personal time when you were going to the office. With no apparent beginning or end of your workday, you might find yourself in these situations:

  • You work while doing other household chores like cooking or taking care of your kids
  • You work round the clock
  • You log-in to work right after waking up
  • You work on your bed
  • You work for extended hours, sometimes till/during/past dinner-time or bedtime

If you can relate to any of these WFH situations, stop and rethink about the lifestyle you are unconsciously cultivating.

This lack of structure with work, sleep, eating, and personal relationships will start to affect your health and mental well-being. Lacking control over your schedule, interactions and time management will quickly give in to burn-out if you don’t act early enough.

2. Exhaustion

If your work is all you think of from the moment you open your eyes to when you close them at night, sooner or later constant exhaustion will take over. If,

  • You feel mentally and emotionally depleted and tired
  • You find it difficult to get off the bed in the morning
  • You are sleeping overtime
  • You generally feel fatigued throughout the day

If you have been feeling tired for the past couple of days now, burnout is the impending doom upon you. Not giving yourself the time to rest and switch off from work will drain your body of energy resources needed to maintain your well-being.

3. Feeling Overwhelmed

You are on the road to burnout if you are starting to feel overwhelmed with your challenges and responsibilities. If,

  • You feel overwhelmed with your work
  • You feel overwhelmed with small chores around the house
  • You feel overwhelmed with self-care activities
  • You can’t find the time to rest and turn off your thoughts
  • You feel helpless at times with the challenges at work and responsibilities at home

Feeling overwhelm generally creep in gradually after not being able to finish off certain challenges at work or complete important home and self responsibilities.

4. Mood Swings and Negative Mindset

People heading towards burnout might experience an attitude of negative thinking and noticeable mood swings. If,

  • You have sudden outbursts of anger or irritation
  • You have mood swings during work or household chores through the day
  • You approach challenges and circumstances with a pessimistic mindset

With constant exhaustion and feeling overwhelmed with most of the things, mood swings can accompany due to excessive stress. If left unchecked, these subtle stints of mood swings and negative thinking can lead to serious mental health issues such as anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.

5. Constant Work Anxiety

When you are working from home, maintaining communication becomes more important and more digital. However, some habits might lead you down the road of burnout if not careful. If,

  • You are constantly checking your email inbox compulsively, even until late night
  • You are anxious about missing out on some work communication throughout the day
  • You are anxious with the thought of your colleague clocking more work hours than you
  • You are stressed out with constantly having to prove yourself

Without any self-imposed restriction, all of these anxious behaviors can go astray during your work from home experience, leading to burnout pretty quickly. Be careful with overindulging in them as it may lead to serious chronic anxiety. If you’re not putting your head out of work, you are not allowing yourself to recharge and handle your work productively.

6. Too Many Distractions

How much of a surge in distractions have you noticed during your WFH?

Email, television, kids, and the constant tease of social media notifications can make it very difficult to maintain focus during any activity, let alone work. If,

  • You are not able to focus on important activities
  • You seem to lose to focus on your personal goals
  • You are becoming forgetful with things
  • You get distracted in between work with social media or something more stimulating than work

All these signs are red flags of impending burnout. It can get very difficult to maintain focus on the important things amidst a plethora of distractions and energy drains. If you distract yourself this as well, you’ll develop a fickle attention span over time.

7. No Motivation

Without the necessary energy and focus, burnout will quickly lead to diminished motivation in you. If,

  • You find yourself lacking interest or enthusiasm in your activities
  • You do not feel driven to work, even on your preferred projects
  • You find no motivation to engage in activities that are important to you, like working out
  • You do not get the same level of satisfaction in activities as before
  • You find dragging yourself to work and other activities

If you are finding it difficult to gather up even a bit of enthusiasm for things that you enjoyed previously, that is a giant red flag for burnout, and also for depression. (If you think you might be depressed, talk to your doctor or mental health professional.)

8. Procrastination

With the convenience of WFH, you start off with a productive bang with the sole focus of getting more done. Weeks go by and you hit a slump. A pretty bad one to recover from quickly. 

This is where procrastination sweeps in. The lack of motivation and excitement might lead to a negative headspace and an indifferent attitude. If,

  • You begin to not care about your work or other things anymore
  • You are not putting your complete effort on your work
  • You simply think of getting by every activity by doing the bare minimum
  • You start feeling unworthy of the things that matter to you
  • You experience a dip in performance levels or others report the same

These attitudes of meddling procrastination in your daily activities can be one of the telltale signs of burnout.

9. Physical Ailments

Burnout can also manifest itself physically in some people, in addition to affecting you mentally and emotionally. Various physical complaints that have been reported by Schoen Clinic are:

  • More frequent colds
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep disorders
  • Respiratory problems
  • Chest tightness
  • Dizziness
  • Gastrointestinal complaints
  • Headache
  • Back pain
  • Tinnitus
  • Sexual problems
  • Perspiration
  • Tiredness

Over time, you run the risk of these physical ailments becoming chronic in nature if left untreated. Add to that the emotional and mental weight of burnout to make things more difficult.

10. Feeling Lonely

Although WFH can be productive and convenient without the constant “people-ing”, we still need some sustainable connections both for work and personal lives. Life for an extrovert has not been easy in these times. But there’s a limit to how much we introverts can tolerate a lack of socializing as well. If,

  • You have been feeling lonely 
  • You spend lots of time on social media checking up on people
  • You feel frustrated without any teamplay happening at work

Feelings of loneliness can be one of the apparent signs of burnout. 
Nothing can and should replace face-to-face interactions, albeit following social distancing norms during the current times.

11. Not Caring About Yourself

With so many responsibilities on your shoulder, are you proactive in taking care of yourself? If,

  • You have started drinking too much coffee or alcohol
  • You have started smoking cigarettes or increased smoking
  • You not eating enough
  • You are not getting enough sleep or relying on pills to sleep
  • You are being sedentary most of the day

Engaging in unhealthy activities is the consequence of suffering from burnout. Too much of coping through an unhealthy habit can become a serious chronic issue before you realize it.


Sleep Training_Image1

If you’re struggling with sleep issues, check out the…

4 Weeks Sleep Training Program
with Sleep Diary (Journal + Tracker)

It’s a STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE designed to help you build better sleep habits and make positive lifestyle changes that support healthy sleep!


12. General Dissatisfaction

When some of the previous signs of burnout become apparent, dissatisfaction becomes obvious. General dissatisfaction is a long term indication of sustained burnout. 

It can become dangerous when feelings of dissatisfaction start to creep into your work or at whatever is going on at home or even your social activities. 

Left unattended and it might evolve into a form of depression. (If you think you might be depressed, talk to your doctor or mental health professional.)

3 tips on how you can avoid it

A recent article on Harvard Business Review shared three tips that you can use to avoid WFH burnout. They suggested:

Maintaining physical and social boundaries

  • Putting on your work clothes and getting ready for work can help you transition to the ‘work you’ from ‘home you’ effectively
  • Develop your own mini commute with a walk around to a nearby park or inside your apartment before sitting down to work

Maintaining time boundaries as much as possible

  • Design a realistic work time schedule and stick to it
  • Keep away from all things related to work outside the work time schedule

Focusing on your most important work

  • Dedicate yourself to the working on the top-priority issues at work
  • Avoid focusing on too many different tasks to reduce counter-productivity

A Final Word

Even with all the signs, burn-out can be hard to recognize amidst the flow of getting work done. And it doesn’t go away on its own. 

Becoming conscious of the alarming signals of burnout is the first step towards beating it. 

It requires some deliberate thought and effort to address it and take control of your life.

Make use of your newborn consciousness to address some hidden triggers of burn-out in your job. Become intentional in your pursuit of a career and lifestyle that blesses you with what you are passionate about and allows you to maintain perfect work-life balance. 

After all, are you living to work or living to live?


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12 Hidden Signs of Work From Home Burnout

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