Men who are secretly experiencing burnout often display these behaviors without realizing it

Burnout occurs when the pressures of work and relationships become overwhelming. 

It all just becomes too much. 

Burnout can happen to any of us and generally occurs at especially difficult times of transition and tension.

But when burnout is happening, not everybody wants to admit it to themselves or others. 

This is especially true with men who believe that it would be weak or unmanly to be honest about how overwhelmed they are. But the symptoms still show. 

Here are the top signs a man is secretly experiencing burnout.

1) Extra irritable

The guy who’s secretly experiencing burnout will often become more easily annoyed and frustrated.

The smallest thing sets him off and he reacts very negatively to minor inconveniences.

He may make excuses about how he’s just having a bad day or not address his outbursts at all, sweeping them under the rug. 

But the extra irritability is palpable. 

As BodyLogic writes, this behavior is also known as IMS (Irritable Man Syndrome) and often corresponds to high stress. 

“Irritability in men is often a result of high stress cortisol levels and low testosterone levels. Some men respond by acting out while others hold these feelings in and become depressed.”

2) Scattered attention

These men will often find it challenging to focus on tasks or conversations. 

They have a lot of trouble focusing and find it hard to truly listen to what anybody is saying, even their boss or coworkers. 

This leads to decreased productivity and more tension in various areas of their lives, and can often be taken the wrong way as being intentionally disrespectful. 

Although they may try to brush it off as them being busy or just having not heard well, this is often the sign of a guy who’s really burnt to a cinder emotionally and psychologically (and physically).

He’s just not firing on all cylinders…Which brings up the next point.

3) Less sociable

They will often gradually withdraw from social gatherings and become noticeably less sociable. 

They may self-isolate and will tend to prefer solitude or limited interaction with others, sticking to close buddies or those they’re very accustomed to. 

Their ability to get to know totally new people is low, and they just don’t want to exert themselves anymore, including romantically or in meeting new people. 

They begin to become something of a hermit, frankly. 

Their social side is at an all-time low, and it’s often due to real burnout

This ties into the next point: 

4) Dropped hobbies 

Hobbies and activities that once brought joy are rarely done anymore. 

The secretly burnt out guy finds things he used to love burdensome and uninteresting now, or at least he seems to. 

They’ve lost the pleasure and thrill they used to get from once-loved hobbies. They’d rather just nap or see what’s streaming. 

That’s burnout talking… 

“Losing interest or pleasure in activities or people that once gave you enjoyment, may be due to overworking, relationship problems or being in a temporary rut,” notes HealthDirect Australia.

5) Tired and aching

Let’s face it: 

Part of burnout is physical. 

I’m talking about bone-deep exhaustion and being sleepy all the time, and waking up feeling like a train ran you over.

Guys who are secretly burnt out know all about this physical side of things:

They experience headaches, digestive issues, and other unexplained physical ailments on a regular basis.

They may also begin to eat less healthily and stop exercising as a result of feeling so run down. 

This also impacts sleep, which brings up the next point:

6) Irregular sleep

Insomnia or excessive sleeping are classic signs of emotional and physical burnout.

Those who experience this are plagued by two things: they are extremely tired, but they often can’t sleep or sleep way too much. 

Their sleep doesn’t correspond with their schedule and they find themselves very tired at the wrong time or at times that directly interfere with their schedule and needs.

As sleep psychologist and wellness advocate Deidre Conroy, Ph.D. explains:

“Patients find it difficult to turn off their thoughts. Their mind races and they can’t shut it down. 

They feel exhausted but aren’t able to fall asleep.”

7) Perfectionist streak

Striving for perfection in every aspect of life, work, and relationships is a lot of work. 

In fact, this can be partly the cause of a man burning out. 

But the thing with a perfectionist guy is that he’s likely to respond to burnout by trying to become more perfectionist. 

This reinforcing cycle of self-criticism and strict standards leads to severe strain and even more burnout. 

8) Substance reliance

They may turn to alcohol, drugs, or other substances as a way to cope with their emotions.

As Beth Connolly notes:

“Compared to women, men are more likely to engage in illicit drug use and to begin using alcohol or drugs at a younger age. 

These risk factors contribute to a rate of substance dependence in men that is twice that of women.”

9) Emotional woodenness 

Men who are secretly burnt out often become emotionally numb and wooden. 

They show limited emotional range, avoiding discussions about their feelings and often only those who know them closely even notice it. 

This is especially true in cultures where men are expected to show less emotion or be more closed off:

They are able to hide their burnout and depression behind the cultural norms of not showing much emotion. 

But behind the scenes, they’re not OK at all. 

10) Growing cynicism

A pessimistic outlook on life and a tendency to see the negative in situations is a strong sign of burnout, especially in men. 

It’s natural for a guy to get a bit toughened up by the trials of life. 

But when a man goes from upbeat and generally optimistic to being cynical and withdrawn, it’s never a sign of anything good. 

It means he’s struggling, and likely covering it up. 

“A pervasive cynical outlook, on the other hand, can create a sense that things are ‘completely pointless’ or that there isn’t ‘any escape,’” observes Elevate.

When we start to believe those distorted thoughts, we tend to feel both hopeless and helpless.”

11) Decision deadlocks

Decisions aren’t easy for any of us, especially big ones. 

But with men who are feeling very burned out on the inside, even small decisions can be overwhelming in ways they never would have expected. 

What to eat for dinner has suddenly become a major headache or leads to just heading for the drive-thru and getting it out of the way (even if it’s unhealthy). 

Every choice just starts to feel so confusing and bewildering. 

They struggle with decision-making in many areas of their life where they didn’t used to, fearing making the wrong choice or feeling apathetic towards outcomes.

12) Skipping out 

Men who are experiencing burnout but don’t want to open up about it often take a simple shortcut:

They just go AWOL. 

Missing work more frequently or finding excuses to avoid commitments are a classic sign of burnout.

The problem is that in addition to missed work shifts and canceled appointments, this creates a vicious cycle of more absenteeism and exhaustion. 

Instead of a refreshing break and coming back renewed, the burnt out guy just ends up creating a habit of running away to avoid the burnt out reality.

13) Self-neglect

Neglecting personal hygiene, nutrition, or exercise is the telltale sign that a man is sinking under burnout. 

He doesn’t want to face it, so he puts even further demands on himself and neglects to look after himself. 

It’s a clear sign that they’re prioritizing other things over their well-being, and the consequences are never good.

As Dr. Sharon Grossman, Ph.D. writes:

“What you need, above all, is to understand why you put yourself last and what can help rewrite the equation so that you prevent burnout (or recover from it once and for all).”

Turning burnout around

The start is to acknowledge that burnout is happening. When a guy admits this to himself and faces it he can begin to take steps to counteract it. 

This involves weighing his life and commitments and deciding his priorities. No man is superman, and everybody has their limits. 

Turning burnout around is about valuing himself and acknowledging his limits while also being honest that he needs a break or perhaps a new direction.

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