Burnout is a mix of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by stress and pressure.

People can often confuse burning out with laziness (and vice-versa). With many similarities between the two, it can be tricky to differentiate.

Each one requires a different approach and a different set of skills to rectify. So, although sometimes tricky – it’s helpful to learn the differences between the two!

Here are some points of difference to help you identify when you’re experiencing burnout.

5 signs you’re burnt out, not lazy!


1. You’re feeling disconnected

Do you feel like going through the day on autopilot? Is there a consistent feeling of emptiness? Not feeling like your usual self?

The emotional stress connected to burnout has been seen to leave people feeling isolated. While an important part of managing burnout is to take a step back, it’s important not to disconnect.

Arrange some ‘you’ time and get reconnected with the things you’re passionate about. Create space for your life outside of work and practice mindfulness by being present in your daily activities.


2. You’re feeling unusually unmotivated

Some people aren’t high energy by nature but we all know our normal levels of operation. While feeling lazy can also be cross-referenced with feeling unmotivated, the main difference is intent. 

If you’re normally motivated to achieve goals and thrive being on the move but have recently become exhausted and unmotivated, then it would be a sign that you’re are feeling burnt out.

Take a break! Listen to your body and nurture it through its recovery period with rest, good nutrition and play. 

Learn more about the benefits of taking a break


3. You’re feeling like you’ve lost your passion

Have you recently lost interest or joy in something that you used to be passionate about?

Burnout will often challenge you when it comes to enjoying yourself. You may even start to feel you dislike activities you were once so fond of. 

Burnout is often directly related to pushing oneself too hard or too far. When you exhaust yourself in one area of your life, it is very easy for this exhaustion to spread. Diminishing everything it touches.

The moment you start to feel this exhaustion creeping in, step back and recharge. Even if you’re in the middle of something – it’s ok to take a walk or a breather. Be kind to your body and mind, and respect your limits. 


4. You’re feeling moody and/or irritable 

Are you finding yourself a little bit snappy? Do you feel emotionally unable? 

We all have a bad day from time to time. It’s normal. But if you find yourself becoming frequently irked by the little things, it may be that you have too much is on your plate. 

Avoid burnout by voicing when you need a hand. Delegate before things become unmanageable and speak up if you become concerned with your workload.  


5. You’re feeling like your self-care has become neglected

One of the most concerning signs of burnout is when you trade your healthy habits for quick fixes and workarounds. Your eating habits, fitness and daily routines become less consistent as little acts of self-care become too much.

The difference between this and laziness is again, intent. A sign that this is burnout and not laziness is if you generally have a routine but suddenly feel too exhausted to keep it up. 

Take a mental health day (or two!) and start back up with the basics. Come back refreshed and reinspired but avoid diving straight back into the chaos. 

For more tips on taking a mental health day, check out our article ‘normalising taking a mental health day


The best way to avoid burnout is through structure, planning and listening! Listen to your body and those who care for you when they say it’s time to take a break or when you’re crossing the line between busy and ‘burning’.

Remember you’re not lazy for needing a break – you’re human. The important part is to recognise the difference and be kind to yourself along the process.

Is a break not going to cut it? Is it time to move on or restructure? Book in a free, 15minute, fully confidential consultation with one of our recruitment consultant specialists.


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