Contact me for psychotherapy, counselling & coaching in Sydney or online | [email protected] | M: +61 427 357 607

8 Signs of 'Lockdown Burnout'​ to watch out for

In March 2020, Australia closed its borders and so our love-hate relationship with ‘Lockdown’ began. I remember in the early stages people were happy to be working from home. There seemed to be extra energy in the air. It meant being able to put on a load of washing before the 10am video-conference call, spending more time with family, getting more sleep due to decreased commute times and feeling a little bit ‘naughty’ wearing comfortable clothes rather than the 'corporate outfit' while negotiating a million-dollar deal. Now nine months on, many are keen to get back to their office, sit at their desk and chat to colleagues in the corridor. Sadly many are being told this won't be possible until mid-2021. Others are quite content to be working from home indefinitely.


Whatever your situation, it is more important than ever that we recognise nobody is immune from burnout and that we are vigilant around the signs of burnout for ourselves, family and friends and colleagues.

Many high achievers experience burnout, whether they work for themselves or others. The thing is burnout occurs as a result of reduced self-care and the misinformed belief that you can keep on going, pushing through, 'mind over matter' until you no longer need to.


Rest is scheduled for later... your body may have other ideas.


Unfortunately, everyone needs rest and rejuvenation and if self-care reaches a level where there is insufficient rejuvenation, our resilience becomes depleted and we run the risk of getting sick and experiencing burnout.


While you may have always considered yourself as resilient, based on past experience, this COVID experience is nothing like anything you will have experienced before. And as it continues it will, if it hasn't already, test the most resilient of us. I have noticed over the past few months how my most resilient clients have started to feel the impact of the pressures of remaining vigilant, while living and working from home. As the situation continues we do need to top-up our self-care more frequently and potentially to a deeper level to avoid the impact of the increasing emotional drain of working and living within a relatively small space with a limited variety of human contact. 

Burnout can creep up on us, if we aren't careful. It is essentially a state of chronic bad stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, detachment and cynicism and feelings that you aren’t accomplishing anything and that everything you do is ineffective and doesn’t matter.


On our way to burnout, we feel unable to say ‘no’ to anything, even when it is at our own expense. It’s when your client makes unrealistic demands and you feel powerless to negotiate a more reasonable timeframe. It’s missing important events that you would prefer to be attending, were it not for something else you couldn’t get out of. You’re working harder and harder but rarely moving forward. You feel tired, overworked, and frustrated at not accomplishing your goals. In the past this may have been when you might have said to yourself, "I need a holiday".


Below are 8 signs that alone or combined can signal either outright burnout or the potential to experience burnout if self-care strategies are increased or actioned more frequently. 


8 Signs of Burnout

  1. Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia – If you are always tired, or you can’t sleep, or both, primarily due to circular thoughts about the work you’re doing, it can be due to burnout or approaching burnout. Disrupted sleep is often one of the first signs. Insomnia is considered an adaptive response to the environment, so it is possible to make changes and get your sleep back on track.
  2. Forgetfulness, Lack of Productivity and Poor Performance – When you can’t sleep well or concentrate, it is natural that you may forget things, not work fast as you did before, and do things poorly. Over time your productivity will experience a slow decline. As yourself, “Am I as productive as I was last month or the month before?”
  3. Inattentiveness and Detachment – It’s hard to focus and pay attention when you’re suffering from burnout, and it can look like detachment and even inattentiveness. If you have been accused of this by someone else, pay attention, they’re pointing it out because they care.
  4. Isolation, Apathy, and Hopelessness – When burnout gets really bad, it can turn into wanting to pull away from others due to lack of interest in anything. You may choose to stay indoors and binge watch TV rather than staying in contact with friends and family in your 'outside' world. This could lead you to feel insignificant in the grand scheme of things which if you feel like your actions don’t matter, can lead to hopelessness.
  5. Lack of Appetite or Poor Diet – All the feelings you’re experiencing can cause you to either not eat at all or eat very poorly. It might not seem apparent immediately but eating a diet high in nutrition is one of the easier ways to avoid burnout and adverse health outcomes.
  6. Illness and Physical Symptoms – Your feelings can end up manifesting as an actual illness. You can become more susceptible to colds and infections when you’re not eating right or if you're fatigued. Plus, due to not taking care of yourself, you may end up having gut related illnesses, especially if your diet has worsened in the process. 
  7. Anxiety and Depression – Mental illness can also rear it’s head as you are experiencing burnout. Sometimes it’s due to nutritional imbalances, or chemical imbalances, but sometimes it’s situational and can be reversed with self-care.
  8. Anger, Pessimism, and Loss of Enjoyment – When you are experiencing the brunt of burnout, you may act out with hostility due to being disillusioned about work and life. If you aren’t enjoying it and feel like you never will, that will affect you severely.


If you recognise any or some of these signs in yourself or others, it's time to take action. Particularly if you aren’t enjoying your work or your life and the feelings of discontentment are intruding on your ability to move forward. If you think you are close to or experiencing burnout, it’s a good idea to start right now, today, creating a plan that will work for you to alleviate the signs of burnout. There’s no need to make any rash decisions. Rather take some time out and consider what you need, and from whom and start taking care of you by asking for what you need. After all, you deserve all the good things in life, including security, satisfaction, and joy. 


Speak to Martine about your risk of burnout? 

Do you want to start taking better care of yourself? Do you want emerge from this situation in a better position than you went in?  Are you struggling to make changes in your life that you know will benefit you? Do you smile politely even when you REALLY want to give feedback? 

It might be time to talk to a professional. Click here to book in a no obligation 30-minute call to see if what you're struggling with and how I work might be a good match for you to achieve your goals. 

Join the VIP list! 

Members of the VIP list receive tips on how to work, sleep and feel better, free downloadable content and more in the weekly newsletter delivered on Tuesdays.


50% Complete

Download my eBook: Strategies for Managing Your Emotions