Your Career• 3 Min read

3rd February 2022

Spotting Signs Of Burnout

Stress, anxiety and burnout can happen at any stage of any career. Often, people can hide or squash down negative feelings, using the old ‘Keep Calm And Carry On’ mentality that many of us still subscribe to, despite knowing that in reality, the only way to alleviate stress is to make some changes. Often in our work lives, stress can build up slowly. A study by Education Support in 2020 found that 82% of teachers described themselves as stressed – knowing when to find a bit of extra support is really important! You might not notice that you are reaching a point of being burnt out, accept your slowly changing appetite or other physical symptoms as the norm and convince yourself that all you need is a good night rest.

That might be the case – a restful nights sleep can improve your brain performance, mental and physical health and your mood. Sometimes however, people might need extra support or strategies to overcome stress and anxiety. It’s hard to recognise this in either yourself or others, with so many of us used to just ‘getting on with things’ Below, we’ve shared some of the indications that you and your colleagues might be struggling, and some ways that you could combat full-blown burnout.

1. Your body acts differently

Your physical health is a reliable monitor of your wellbeing. Often the first signs that you need to start to perform some self-care will manifest in changes to your usual habits and routines. Changes in your appetite are one such sign. You might find yourself eating more, or skipping meals. People who are suffering from stress often report finding food tasteless, or are drawn to plainer, more comforting foods. Your sleep is another thing you may notice suffers if you are experiencing stress in any area of life, you might experience insomnia or find it harder to wake up in the mornings. Constantly feeling tired is one big sign of being burnt out.


Eating high nutrient foods, drinking lots of water and making sure you stick to a regular sleep routine can all help to alleviate these symptoms – and provide you with the energy you need to tackle problems. A sunrise lamp might help you to wake up if you struggle to get out of bed, especially in winter. You might find talking through problems with someone helps, either a friend or colleague, or try Education Supports’ 24/7 helpline for teachers.

2. You Become Withdrawn

One of the key signs that a colleague or friend might need some extra support is withdrawal from usual activities. Spotting this in others is a useful way to check in with friends, but it’s important to recognise your own feelings if you notice a difference in your attitude towards social activities. If you’re cancelling plans, seeking out opportunities to be alone or deliberately avoiding events that you used to enjoy, it might be time to readjust your self-care routine or reach out for help if you need it. Connect with others in the same boat online, find a list of teacher support communities here. The pandemic has left us all less social so it might be harder to tell when either yourself or others are struggling.


If you find yourself cancelling plans a lot, think about what’s putting you off – perhaps trying some new activities, a sport or changing up who you spend time with would invigorate you. It’s also perfectly fine to want to retreat more during difficult patches – time alone can offer a valuable chance to process difficult situations. Don’t be afraid to tell close friends or family that you aren’t feeling yourself. If you feel a friend is withdrawing from their social life, reach out with positivity.

3. Your Mood Changes

Most peoples moods fluctuate over time, with periods of positivity and periods where things seem harder to deal with. This is all part of the rollercoaster of life and is the same in any profession. It can be hard to recognise when a low mood is part of a bigger burnout issue or simply the result of hormonal or environmental changes. You might find yourself being shorter with colleagues, more willing to argue your point or find yourself feeling numb towards things you previous cared greatly about. Recognising these changes in your mood can be a starting point for managing burnout before it happens. Make sure you are doing everything you can to support your own mental wellbeing – try out some of our 7 Little Changes That’ll Make A Big Difference To Your Wellbeing


Tracking your mood using a tracker – try this simple web-based version, or try these wellbeing resources from Twinkl. In friends and colleagues, being mindful of other peoples feelings and what they may have going on behind the scenes goes a long way – reaching out goes further. Mind have some great resources for helping to signpost others towards help and support here.

4. Work Problems

People who are suffering from anxiety, depression or other mental health problems may find the responsibility of their role weighs more heavily. You might struggle to meet deadlines, feel like you aren’t doing enough, find yourself working unproductively or longer hours than usual trying to ‘catch up’. It might feel insurmountable to get through a day, or you dread one element of it. Certain negative feelings are to be expected in any role (unless you love your job without condition!) Workload management is a learnt skill, so making sure you are scheduling enough time to complete your work and have some downtime is important to maintaining a healthy work-life balance and a healthy mind.

How To Help:

Change up how you manage your workload, try a management app such as Trello. Utilise free teaching resources available online to reduce the time you spent creating lessons. Speaking to a colleague, Head of Department or your mentor is a positive step towards making someone aware that you are struggling – they might be able to rearrange your timetable or take some of your workload temporarily off your hands. Or try this course from Creative Education: Take Control of Your Time to Reduce Your Workload as a Teacher.


Find help with all aspects of your mental health and wellbeing, and avoid teacher burnout by building your own set of strategies and resources. Here are some more of our favourites:

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