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  • Writer's pictureJustin Tilghman, Ph.D.

Can burnout make you sick?

Burnout is a term used to describe a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by prolonged periods of stress, particularly in the workplace. Burnout has become increasingly common in recent years, and its effects can be devastating. But can burnout actually make you sick?

The short answer is yes, burnout can make you sick. Burnout is not just a feeling of being tired or stressed out; it is a more serious condition with physical symptoms. Here are some ways in which burnout can impact your physical health:

  1. Weakened Immune System: Chronic stress can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections and illnesses. The stress associated with burnout can also cause your body to produce fewer white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting off infections.

  2. Increased Risk of Chronic Diseases: Prolonged stress can also increase your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. These conditions can have a significant impact on your overall health and well-being.

  3. Sleep Issues: Burnout can cause sleep issues like insomnia, which can hurt your physical health. Sleep is essential for the body to repair and rejuvenate itself, and chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a lot of different health problems.

  4. Digestive Problems: Stress can also affect your digestive system, causing symptoms like stomach pain, diarrhea, and constipation. Chronic stress can also affect the bacteria in your gut and lead to serious digestive problems, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

  5. Fatigue: Burnout can cause extreme fatigue, which can make it difficult to perform even the most basic tasks. Chronic fatigue can have a negative impact on your physical health and can lead to depression and other mental health problems.

It is important to note that burnout is not just a physical condition but a mental one as well. Burnout can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems, which can significantly impact your overall health and well-being.

So, what can you do to prevent burnout and protect your physical and mental health? Here are a few tips:

  1. Take breaks: Taking regular breaks throughout the day can help you manage stress and prevent burnout. Even a short walk or a few minutes of deep breathing can help you feel more relaxed and refreshed.

  2. Practice self-care: Make time for activities that bring you joy and help you relax, such as reading a book, taking a bath, or practicing yoga.

  3. Prioritize sleep: Make sure you are getting enough sleep each night to allow your body to rest and repair itself.

  4. Seek support: Don't be afraid to seek support from friends, family, or someone like a life coach or a therapist if you are struggling with burnout or other mental health problems.

Burnout can make you sick both physically and mentally. It is important to take steps to prevent burnout and prioritize your physical and mental health. By taking care of yourself and seeking support when needed, you can prevent burnout and enjoy a healthy and fulfilling life.

I specialize in working with clients who are experiencing burnout to help them develop healthy boundaries and regain control of their lives. If you're currently struggling with burnout or feel like you're moving toward burnout, let's talk.


Justin is a Board Certified Advanced Life Coach with the Board of Christian Life Coaching, a division of the International Board of Christian Care and the American Association of Christian Counselors. He has demonstrated knowledge and application of biblical integration in coaching, the ICCA and ICF Core Competencies, the Code of Ethics, and the ICF definition of coaching.


Justin is a Board Certified Master Mental Health Coach with the Board of Mental Health Coaching, a division of the International Board of Christian Care and the American Association of Christian Counselors. He has demonstrated knowledge and application of biblical integration in providing ethical and competent mental health coaching.

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