Dealing with Burnout as a Leader: 5 Signs You Need to Take a Break

A young female professional is faced with burnout as a leader.

Perseverance is crucial to success. The ability to keep pressing on through hardship and difficulty is an important discipline, for leaders and employees alike. However, there are times when fighting through is not what’s best for you or your team. 

Continually pushing yourself can lead to burnout, or mental, emotional and physical exhaustion from repeated stress. Maybe you’ve been struggling with a project and are feeling worn out, or maybe you feel overwhelmed by the amount of work you have on your plate. How do you know when you should keep pushing or when you need to stop and rest?

Here are five signs you’re experiencing burnout as a leader.

1. You’re consistently stressed.

Stress is a normal part of life, and can be a healthy motivator for getting work done and staying productive. However, constant, repeated stress and anxiety can negatively influence your health, mental well-being and in turn affect your performance at work. If you feel constantly stressed or like there’s no end in sight, that may be a good indication that you need to stop and take care of yourself.

2. You feel physically exhausted.

You may find yourself sleeping more, yet, you may still wake up feeling tired. You may also feel more tired than usual throughout the day or be getting sick or feeling unwell. Be sure you’re taking care of yourself by regularly eating, drinking water and getting enough sleep. If you still feel exhausted, you could be experiencing burnout.

3. You dread going to work.

While everyone can have mornings where they’d rather stay home than drive to work, when you’re experiencing burnout as a leader, you may consistently dread working. You may feel stressed just thinking about your job and what might await you later that day or week. Try reframing these thoughts as they come, and practice taking your day one step at a time.

4. You’re having trouble completing tasks.

You may have trouble focusing or feel mentally worn out. Even if you’re giving it your all, you might still feel like you’re not getting enough done or struggling to complete everyday tasks. Be sure you’re taking regular breaks and asking for help with projects if you need it. Having a hard time finishing your work may be a sign you need to take a step back and rest.

5. You feel more frustrated than usual.

In times of high stress and when you’re under pressure, it can be easy to feel frustrated with your team or be easily irritated by day-to-day circumstances. However, feeling more irritated or bothered than usual can be an indicator you’re feeling burned out. Take a step back during moments of irritation and clear your head. If you’re still repeatedly frustrated but can’t identify why, you may be experiencing burnout.

It can be challenging to know when it’s time to push through and when it’s time to rest. Be sure to regularly take a step back and evaluate how you’re feeling, both mentally and emotionally. If you find yourself experiencing burnout as a leader, prioritize your well-being. Delegate some of your responsibilities, reach out for help, and most importantly, take time away from your work to rest.