Various stages of burnout

ZS Archives | Various stages of burnout

It is important to note that burnout can occur in anyone at any time. However, burnout is more frequently seen in the age groups of 25 to 44 in both males and females. The symptoms of burnout affect each individual differently, but there are 5 collective stages that are commonly observed that can be linked to burnout. They include the following:

Stage 1: The honeymoon phase

With the start of lockdown, many of us decided to take up a new skill or hobby. This is met with high job/self-satisfaction, commitment and loads of energy. In the honeymoon phase, you may experience predicted stress therefore it is necessary to adopt coping strategies early on. Some theorize that if you could find solid coping mechanisms early on, the honeymoon phase never fades.

Symptoms of the honeymoon phase include:


  • Commitment towards the task at hand
  • A compulsion to prove oneself
  • Loads of creative ideas or creativity in general
  • High productivity levels
  • Optimism

Stage 2: Onset of stress

In the second phase of burnout, you will become aware that some day’s get more and more difficult. It is common for one’s optimism to start fading and you will become aware of common stress symptoms which may affect you physically, mentally and emotionally.

Symptoms of onset stress include:


  • Anxiety
  • Change in appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Forgetfulness
  • Irritability
  • Lower productivity
  • Heart palpitations
  • Higher blood pressure

Stage 3: Chronic stress

The third stage leads to chronic stress. You will notice a definite increase in your stress levels and on a frequent basis.

Symptoms of chronic stress include:


  • Apathy
  • Anger
  • Cynical attitude
  • Denial (problems at work or at home)
  • Lack of interest
  • Missing meetings/deadlines at work
  • Physical illness

Stage 4: Burnout

Entering stage 4 is where things become much more serious. At this point continuing as if nothing is wrong with you is often close to impossible. If you ever find yourself in stage 4 of burnout we suggest you seek medical intervention.

Symptoms can include:


  • Noticeable behavioural changes
  • Chronic headaches
  • Feelings of wanting to escape
  • An Empty feeling
  • Development of a pessimistic outlook on life or work
  • Self-doubt

Stage 5: Habitual burnout

This stage of burnout means that stress and anxiety are so embedded in your life that is likely that you will experience a significant physical or emotional problem.

When you reach this stage the symptoms include the following:


  • Chronic stress and frequent headaches
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Mental fatigue
  • Physical fatigue
  • Burnout syndrome

Luckily there are some appropriate measures we can take to prevent burnout from occurring during 2021. Below is a list of options available for you to try. Everyone will have different ways that support recovery but even the smallest of steps will go a long way in restoring your balance, energy and love for life.

Aug 10, 2021

Dealing with burnout during 2021

Looking back at the pandemic’s past effects and the uncertainty of the future, for many, a feeling of exhaustion, combined with stress, starts to set in. […]