10 Warning Signs of Burnout & Excessive Stress

Feeling like you're running on empty? Here are 10 signs you definitely are.

October 12, 2016
burnout stress

Adapted from The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook 

Your body has many ways of warning you that the level of stress it is under is not sustainable. Being under a constant barrage of stressful situations without allowing time for restoration and recovery makes it possible to reach a state of chronic burnout and further health disturbances.

More: 8 Ways You Can Manage Stress Right Now

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms on this list on a regular basis, you should investigate whether your current stress-management routine is adequate for your needs, or if there are any stressors you could potentially eliminate from your life.

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1. Difficulty waking up in the morning

Cortisol, that hormone secreted by the adrenal glands that is necessary for stimulating your energy levels in the morning, can be lacking due to excessive long-term stress and burnout. 

More: 50 Ways to Sleep Better Tonight

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2. Fatigued despite adequate sleep

When your need for rest and recovery is greater than what your body is getting, you end up feeling tired and unrefreshed.

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3. Salty food cravings

Chronic stress can lead to electrolyte imbalances, which cause some people to crave salt. 

More: 4 Weird Ways to Beat Food Cravings

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4. Decreased ability to handle stressful situations

If you have been experiencing prolonged stress, your tolerance for and resilience in subsequent stressful situations decrease considerably.

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5. Irregular menstrual cycles and increased PMS

Since the body prioritizes stress hormones over sex hormones (and often they are made from the same raw materials), chronic stress leads to imbalances in hormones that can result in irregular cycles, PMS, and even contribute to infertility.

More: Period Power: How Your Menstrual Cycle Affects Your Workout

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6. Frequent colds with flus with an increased recovery time

Similar to hormonal balance, the body prioritizes stress hormones over immune function, making it extra hard to fight common colds and other illnesses.

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7. Light-headedness when standing up

The electrolyte imbalances that are common with chronic stress often cause you to feel light-headed or dizzy when standing up suddenly.

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8. Brain fog

Excessive stress can cause you to feel like your thinking is consistently foggy and memory can falter. 

More: 12 Tricks to Boost Your Brain & Memory Power

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9. Reliance on caffeine or sugar to get through the day

Caffeine and sugar both give you a boost when energy levels dip and not being able to go without them can be a sign that your natural energy reserves and resilience to handle stress are lacking.

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10. Blood sugar swings

Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your blood-sugar balance, causing you to have energy highs and lows throughout the day.

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