Startling Symptoms of Burnout

When many of us things about burnout, we consider the psychological and cognitive factors – fatigue, brain fog, dissociation, cynicism, perception of inequities or the lack of fairness in our work environment.

A toxic workplace, uncivil coworkers, poor management, and the microinequities of insults and discriminatory “jokes” wear us down.

With more layoffs, and news about it, we are in a state of fear and job insecurity at home and work.

Mental fatigue, the feeling of job insecurity, and a lack of psychological safety have consequences for us physiologically and behaviorally too.

Burnout, trauma, PTSD, CPTSD, anxiety, panic disorder, task paralysis and other mental health concerns can keep us in a state of hypervigilance.

Toxic work environments, work overload, and a lack of access to information or resources create chronic stress as we continue to endure these “symptoms” of workplace conflict. Our job and family demands far outweigh our coping or job resources.


Our body produces adrenaline whenever we believe we are in danger. Hypervigilance affects all aspects of the nervous system. It often causes increased heart rate, dilated pupils, faster breathing, sweating, and elevated blood pressure.


It may blunt our ability to recognize and regulate our feelings. In addition to fear, anxiety, and panic, the chronic stress caused by hypervigilance can lead to mood swings and overreactions, from irritability to sudden outbursts of anger.


The constant tension of hypervigilance can turn us toward unhealthy ways of drowning out our fears to give us a sense of control. Alcohol, food, and drugs all work with our brain science to create coping mechanisms and distance.

What types of responses do you have to work overload, threatening work environments, coworker conflict, and other work stressors?

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