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Modern life is pretty stressful. Add to this we’ve also just lived through a major pandemic and it’s understandable if you’re not feeling your best. Sometimes it can be easy to miss when we’re run down because we’re used to looking for extremes. You don’t have to have suffered severe burn-out or some kind of breakdown to be feeling the effects of being run down. 

However, it’s important to recognize the signs in yourself before they start becoming a bigger problem. 

Frequent illnesses

Being run down can affect your immune system. It can seem like you’re lurching from one illness to another, picking up every bug you encounter. Frequent ear infections, colds, and tonsilitis can all start taking their toll on you. First, rule out any underlying issues, find an audiologist or a doctor who can assess your overall health. 


Feeling a constant sense of fatigue can be a sign that you’re overworked. If you never seem to have any energy, no matter how long you’ve slept but then you may have chronic fatigue syndrome. 

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Problems concentrating

Head feel like it’s full of cotton wool? Struggling to remember simple things, or even what you had for dinner yesterday? Finding it difficult to focus on tasks or being absent-minded can be frustrating and a sign that you need to take a break. 

Mood swings

Do you have a shorter temper than usual? Or do you get tearful easily, especially when it’s not something that would usually affect you? Changes in mood often signal that we’re not happy in some way, whether we realize it or not. If you find that your mood is erratic, or that you’re acting out of character, that could be another sign of burnout. 


While some people experience mood swings when they’re stressed and under the weather, but this isn’t always the case. It’s also possible that a lack of emotion could be a symptom. If you’re generally feeling something like a malaise, or just general apathy towards situations that would usually provoke a response. 

Unhealthy food cravings

At times of stress, our bodies can begin to crave carbs and sugar, even if these aren’t a normal part of our diets. If you find that you are constantly craving these foods and eating them to excess, it may be your body’s way of trying to make itself feel better. But this only works for the short term. Too much sugar and carbs will cause your blood sugar to strike and then crash, leaving you feeling sluggish and lethargic. Over time it can also cause weight gain and its associated health risks. 

Changes to your sleeping patterns

We rely on sleep to make us feel rested and better to face the day ahead, but it is often one of the first things to be affected when we’re feeling stressed or run down. Some people respond by being unable to sleep and developing insomnia. Others find the opposite, that they find themselves sleeping all the time but never feeling rested. 


Don’t wait until you hit complete burnout before you take action. The road to this is long with plenty of opportunities to make changes and implement self-care.