4 Warning Signs That You’re Burning Out at Work


Joanne Poh



If those office workers walking around at Raffles Place look a little zombie-like to you, that could be because they’re all just stressed out beyond belief. According to recent reports, not only are Singaporean business professionals more stressed out than they were 5 years ago, the number of young professionals who end up in psychiatrists’ offices with medical issues due to stress and long hours at work is skyrocketing. Singaporeans are quite literally working themselves to death.

If you suspect that you’re heading straight towards burning out in spectacular fashion, here are some signs to watch out for. If you’re exhibiting one or more of these four signs, some self-care is in order, so take a vacation, watch your diet, exercise and sleep like a hawk and find ways to manage your stress before it’s too late.


You can’t control your negative emotions

Even if you work at Disneyland, work is most definitely not a place filled with rainbows, pink ponies and everlasting love. Some degree of stress is inevitable at the workplace. But if your stress levels are so high you can barely control your negative emotions, it’s time to start looking inwards to see if you can fix this problem… and if you can’t, you should seriously reconsider your job.

I once worked at an office where my boss was constantly screaming at her minions. Throughout the day, the cubicles would reverberate with the sound of her voice. There were times she got so angry I honestly thought she was going to have a heart attack on the spot. If you find yourself turning into an out-of-control raging psycho at work or dissolving into tears at the drop of a hat, you need to take some time out to help yourself.


You’re unable to perform at work

If you’re a perfectionist who beats yourself up at the first thing that goes awry, ignore this. But if you’re so stressed out or unmotivated you can barely carry out the functions for which you were hired in a satisfactory manner, it might be time to assess whether you really should be in this job.

One example of being unable to perform at work is religiously avoiding phone calls from clients because they make you feel sick, not being able to bring yourself to start work on a new project or constantly trying to escape by taking long breaks or hiding in the toilet.


You’re chronically tired or sick

You might be able to sacrifice your health for work in the short-term, but keep this up and in a couple of years you’re going to find yourself spending a lot of money trying to treat your ailing body. If you find yourself chronically tired or sick to the point where there is never a day you don’t feel like your body is being put through the ringer, it might be time to hit the brakes.

Late nights at the office now and then are pretty common in Singapore. But if, like some lawyers, you work till 3am every day, only to show up at the again office at 9am 6 hours later, unless you’ve got a constitution of steel you’re probably going to find yourself feeling like a truck is hitting you each and every day. If even a lie-in on the weekend can’t fix your state of chronic fatigue or you’re fighting a flu that never goes away, you need to take a step back and assess whether there are ways you can get more rest and exercise.


You have no life outside of work

If the only thing you ever do after work is collapse into bed in an exhausted heap, sleeping till the next morning only to rinse and repeat once again, and you find yourself burning your weekends at the office, we’re guessing you don’t have much of a life outside of work. Unless you love your job enough to actually want to do it 24/7, not having anything in your life other than work is a surefire recipe for burnout.

However, before you point a finger at your boss and resign in a cloud of fire and brimstone, assess your own schedule. Chances are you’re partly to blame for not having a life—by leaving the office late due to your own efficiency, not making post-work plans or generally being unenthusiastic about life. Give yourself something to look forward to and you might actually find yourself performing better at work.

Are you feeling burnt-out at work? Tell us why in the comments!

Keep updated with all the news!

Tags: ,

Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.