Managing the 5 stages of burnout

5 stages of burnout


The Honeymoon Phase


Onset of Stress


Chronic Stress


True Burnout


Habitual Burnout

Phase 1: The Honeymoon Phase

When taking on new work, it’s common, and even predictable, to experience minor bouts of stress. Stress comes with the newness of a big challenge or career advancement, but most people tend to cope well in this phase as they establish footing and grow into their roles.

Phase 2: Onset of Stress

Stress onset can manifest in a number of ways appearing as nervous anxiety, irritability, fatigue, or disorganisation. Employees must prioritise their time and decisions at work. Mindfulness techniques can bring people’s awareness to changes in their moods, heart rates, and other physical changes like muscle tension and tiredness.

Phase 3: Chronic Stress

When stress levels rise faster and more frequently, the risks for mental and physical health consequences increase and could reach a dangerous tipping point. Individuals are encouraged to use available medical benefits, employee assistance plans, or seek local counselling. Speaking up and innovating work improvements are also good options.

Phase 4: True Burnout

Be careful when you notice major behavioural shifts in yourself, such as cynicism and strong pessimism about your work, feelings of incompetence, unwarranted fears, strong desires to escape or self-isolate and other serious physical conditions. Ask yourself if the job or company is really for you.

Phase 5: Habitual Burnout

This most severe phase of burnout shows up in forms of chronic sadness or depression, mental exhaustion, low self-efficacy and, in the worse cases, as suicidal ideation. Reach out for help immediately.

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