Five physical symptoms you might not realize can be caused by burnout

Do you know the signs that something’s wrong? (Picture: Getty/

By now, you’re probably fairly well-versed on the mental symptoms of burnout.

You know the drill: irritability, numbness, struggling to make decisions, total overwhelm, all that not-at-all-fun stuff.

But what about the physical symptoms, which can often show up as early warning signs that you’re on track for total burnout?

Many of us aren’t so savvy in this area – and this can mean we don’t know we’re in trouble until it’s too late.

To help us out, private rehab clinic From the mother outlines some lesser-known physical signs of looming burnout.


Don’t just pop painkillers and assume you’re fine.

Tension headaches can often occur as a result of chronic stress, and if you keep getting them, burnout could be why.

Stomach and digestion issues

‘Burnout can also negatively impact an individual’s stomach health, as stress increases the production of particular hormones and neurotransmitters in the body,’ say the Delamere experts.

‘This can affect the delicate balance of bacteria in a person’s gut, leading to stomach issues like dyspepsia, gastritis and gastroesophageal reflux disease.

‘Digestion can also be affected and slowed down causing bloating, pain and constipation or alternatively sped up, worsening symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.’

Don’t dismiss those headaches (Picture: Getty/

weight gain

Long-term stress can trigger weight gain in a number of ways.

For one, when you’re under intense mental strain, it’s much harder to make healthy choices. You’re likely to reach for high-sugar, high-fat, low-nutrient foods as a comfort binge or in an attempt to up your energy levels. You’re less likely to do a workout – who has the energy after yet another long day at work?

There are also hormonal changes triggered by stress that can lead to weight gain.

Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, gets flooded around the body when you’re overworked and overwhelmed – and a side effect of this is that your body is encouraged to store fat cells, especially in the tummy area.

Changes in sleep

Suddenly unable to drift off? Tossing, turning, and waking up in the night? Waking way before your alarm?

Or are you sleeping more than before? Still feeling tired, no matter how much you rest? Falling asleep every time you sit down in a meeting?

All of these can be signs of burnout.

‘Burnout and high levels of stress can cause the autonomic nervous system to release hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol that cause distinct changes to sleep habits and can often lead to insomnia or fatigue,’ say the Delamere team.

Always getting cold? Burnout might be why (Picture: Getty/

Frequent colds and infections

The Delamere experts say: ‘Ever wondered why people’s bodies are often more susceptible to colds and viruses when they are feeling stressed and burnt out?

‘That is because stress suppresses the immune system making it easier to get sick and it harder for the body to fight off.

‘Stress decreases the body’s lymphocytes (the white blood cells that fight viruses) making the body more at risk of infections.

‘But alongside this, constant stress also means the body adjusts to having excess cortisol, making the immune system less sensitive to it and unable to regulate an inflammatory response as easily.’

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