I really didn't want to write this article. If that doesn’t tell you about the current frame of my mind, I don’t know what will.

It’s that time of year when Decemberitis is all too real and the only things our minds are capable of doing is counting down the days until we can finally go on leave.

Of course, we write about November and Decemberitis with a fair share of amusement, because humour is a fantastic way to cope when all you feel like doing is stabbing things (and people) with the pen on your desk, but the truth is that we all need a break from work.

Some people are such extreme workaholics, that they don’t know they need a break until it’s too late.

"You’re no good to anyone if you’re running around like a headless chicken, trying to get many things done at once, but finishing none."

It’s all good and well to work hard, but if it’s at the cost of your health, then it’s not helping you or your employer. 

Here are signs that you need to take a break:

1. You’re constantly frazzled by the amount of work you have to do

Struggling to focus on getting tasks done? Are you overwhelmed by the amount of reports, deadlines or meetings you have to attend to? Don’t worry, all you need to do is just set all your documents on fire and walk out of the building, never to look back again. 

We kid. We kid.

A sure sign of work burnout is in the way you’re able to deal with your work capacity.

If you are unable to deal without it feeling like the world is closing in on you, then you need a timeout.

You’re no good to anyone if you’re running around like a headless chicken, trying to get many things done at once, but finishing none.

Read more: What it’s like working with an invisible disability

2. Opinions (bad or good) about your work no longer matter

I was reading this article on Refinery29, and one of the writers mentioned that she knew she had to start looking out for a new job when she stopped sharing the content the she wrote on social media.

I don’t know about you, but one of my biggest sources of joy is when I do something really well at work or write something that I’d be willing to share because I think people might be interested in reading it.

"One of the best ways to relax post-work is to indulge in something you love – something that’s fun and relaxes you. "

I’m also a big believer in taking constructive criticism to heart and learning how to be better if something I didn’t do well blows up in my face (this is still very much a learning process for me).

If you’re in a position where you find that you simply cannot be bothered by your work – criticism leaves you cold and you’re numb to any work praise, it’s probably a good sign that something is wrong and that you either need a break or you need some change.

3.  You’re too tired to do anything when you’re not at work

Work-life balance is something many of us (myself included) struggle with. One of the best ways to relax post-work is to indulge in something you love – something that’s fun and relaxes you. 

Whether it’s reading, going clubbing, or painting the town in shades of rainbow, the point is that we all have a human need to do something that makes us happy and provides us with respite from the daily grind.

Are you no longer doing any activities that once appealed to you? Does the thought of going out and having fun with your friends no longer excite you? When was the last time you picked up a good book? 

"When your work standard is beginning to suffer, there’s usually a good chance that underlying factors like exhaustion and work burnout are at work here."

If the answers to these questions are negative and leave you feeling unsettled, you might want to take that time off you’ve been meaning to for ages now. 

Read more: 8 things I learnt as an intern

4.  You mess up at work… more frequently than usual

Everyone screws up at work. It’s a rite of passage that no one can avoid. However, there is a difference between making mistakes infrequently and dropping the ball on a regular basis. 

When your work standard is beginning to suffer, there’s usually a good chance that underlying factors like exhaustion and work burnout are at work here.

If you can feel that your standards are slipping, talk to your employer and ask for that much needed break (especially if you are, for some reason, unable to take leave).

Have you ever suffered from work burnout? How did you cope? What helped you get through it? Share your stories and we’ll feature on W24.

Read more:

5 work related issues you should never feel guilty about

5 struggles every graduate searching for a job can relate to