Exhaustion, headaches and a general sense of crabbiness can all mean one thing: you’re burnt out. But sometimes the signs of burnout aren’t so obvious, which means you might miss the important warning signs that you’re in dire need of a break.
According to the editors at Self, burnout has three distinct components—a feeling of low personal accomplishment, detachment from others, and emotional exhaustion—and can be caused by any aspect of life that causes you to become overwhelmed, from work to kids to the political climate. The key is to recognize when common stress crosses over into chronic stress. Self points out these four not-so-common indicators that you’ve hit maximum capacity and need to put the brakes on:
You’ve lost your sense of humor. What used to make you chuckle now makes you roll your eyes. When you’ve lost your sense of lightheartedness and playfulness, burnout can be the culprit.
Muscle aches and a chronic cold. Stress increases your cortisol level, the hormone responsible for your fight or flight response, which suppresses your immune system, making you more vulnerable to illness. High cortisol levels could also lead to muscle aches, especially in your shoulders and neck.
You’re distracted and unproductive. While you were once a highly productive multi-tasker, burnout can make your brain fuzzy, and the simplest of tasks feel overwhelming. That’s because when the mind is distressed, it reserves energy, so you’re not operating at the capacity you once were.
Everyone annoys you. Burnout also causes you to see people more as objects than as human beings, causing you to lose tolerance and patience with everyone around you.
If any or all of the above ring true for you, the only solution is to find a way to take a break. Delegate tasks, decline invitations, take a day off, stay in bed…whatever it takes to come to a full stop and recharge.