Lawyer Burnout: Recognising The Signs

For the average lawyer, burnout is one of those things that we really need to keep an eye on. Unfortunately, because many of us feel that we have to be able to do everything alone, and are afraid of asking for help, we rarely see it coming. In this article, I will tell you how to spot the signs of burnout.

As lawyers are often so passionate about what they do, they tend to ignore the fact that they’re putting in exceptionally long hours, taking on increasingly heavy workloads, and putting huge pressure on themselves to be perfect. All of these things make of which make them especially prone to burnout.

What Is Burnout?

Burnout is a state of chronic stress that leads to:

  • physical and emotional exhaustion
  • cynicism and detachment
  • feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment

If you are fully submerged in the depth of burnout, you will struggle to function effectively in either your personal or professional life. In the early days of my burnout, I would push through all week and then be completely floored at the weekend, only to then do it all over again the next week. 

Burnout doesn’t happen immediately though. It creeps up on us over time and that makes it harder to recognize.  

What Are The Signs of Burnout?

  1. Chronic Fatigue: You may feel a lack of energy and feel tired most days, or it might be that you are completely emotionally exhausted, deplete, and dreading what lies ahead on any given day.
  2. Insomnia: You might have problems falling asleep or staying asleep one or two nights a week, or it might be a nightly ordeal preventing you from getting any sleep at all. 
  3. Memory Issues: Lack of focus and minor forgetfulness are early symptoms, but that problem can build-up to the point where you can’t get your work done on time and things start to pile up.
  4. Increased Illness: Because your body is depleted and exhausted, the immune system is weaker and this makes you more vulnerable to colds, flu, and other medical issues.
  5. Lack of Appetite: This might manifest as an occasional skipping of lunch, but can evolve into a complete loss of appetite and weight loss.
  6. Anxiety, Depression & Anger
  7. Lack of Enjoyment: This might be mild, like not wanting to go to work, but eventually may extend into other areas of your life, like avoiding social events. 
  8. Detachment: A general feeling of being disconnected from others, this can lead to you withdrawing emotionally and physically from others. This may also present as apathy – where you feel that nothing is going right or nothing matters. This may manifest with a sense of “what’s the point?”
  9. Irritability: This stems from a feeling that you are ineffective, unimportant, or useless. 
  10. Low Productivity: Despite the fact that you are working long hours, chronic stress stops you from being productive and this results in unfinished projects and a mounting to-do list that it feels you can’t reach the end of.

If you recognize that you are experiencing some of these symptoms, it is time to stop and get help. Make time to review the stress in your life and find some ways to reduce it before it gets worse. Burnout doesn’t go away unless you make some changes in your life. Book a discovery call with me here to find out more about how I can help and give you some support.


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