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How to recognise burnout – and what to do if you have it

January 21, 2021

The hair and beauty industry is fast-paced, physically strenuous, and requires an extremely high level of emotional care and empathy. So it’s no surprise more hair stylists than ever are coming to us feeling mentally exhausted and frustrated.

Our mental health and our jobs are strongly linked – if you’re struggling at work, it can lead to real mental health issues. One of the biggest issues in the modern workplace is burnout. In fact, the World Health Organisation has officially recognised burnout as an “occupational syndrome” (it’s not just in your head.)

So what are the main signs of burnout, and what can you do if you’re experiencing them?

You’re constantly tired

Just getting out of bed each day feels like a massive effort. Even if you had a decent night’s sleep, you feel like you need a double-shot of espresso and a Red Bull just to get going.

As well as a physical lack of energy, you’re emotionally drained. You might find yourself numb when talking with a client, or catching up with friends.

You’re just not excited about work anymore

What does it feel like when you look at your schedule? Are you keen to take on the day, or are you just full of dread? Do you just feel ‘meh’ about a challenge at work you would usually looked forward to?

Where did the ‘spark’ go? If you can’t get even a little excited about things that you used to love about your job, that is a major red flag, and a sign that things aren’t right.

You’re performance is suffering

It’s a pretty natural cycle – because you’re constantly feeling exhausted, and because you just don’t have the enthusiasm for work anymore, your performance starts to go downhill.

This doesn’t mean you’re ‘lazy’, or bad at your job, but that you’re unable to give it the attention or care you used to!

You’re physically unwell

A lot of people who experience burnout also have physical symptoms, including:

  • Insomnia
  • Chest pains
  • Headaches
  • Sick more often
  • Heart palpitations or ‘panic attacks’
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Stomach/digestive problems

There might be other reasons for these pains or feelings, but if you’re experiencing these alongside the emotional symptoms, it could mean you’re burnt out.


Burnout isn’t going to go away with a face mask and a glass of wine. Just like any illness or injury, you have to treat the cause of your burnout and not the symptoms.

The truth is your workplace has a legal responsibility to take care of your mental health, just as they do your physical health. And while you have to do your job, there are some things you can do to help manage burnout at work:

  • Talk to your GP – your GP can provide you great advice, and can refer you to other medical professionals if you need it.
  • Have an honest talk with your boss, explain the issue and ask for support.
  • Take a decent break, for at least a week if you can. (And yes, you can use sick leave to manage burnout! Just get a med cert from your GP)
  • Ask for help, and see if your workmates can cover clients you know will stress you out.
  • Try something new, and take an industry or product course in something you’ve always wanted to do.
  • Slow down your day. Give yourself time between clients, take your breaks, and ask for less intensive tasks, if you can.
  • Get more help. A psychologist will give you the tools and strategies to manage your mental health – plus you get 20 subsidised sessions each year under Medicare.

We know a lot of this is contingent on having a supportive working environment – and for a lot of workers, that just isn’t the case.

If you are struggling with burnout, workload, or a toxic salon environment, please don’t wait for things to ‘get better’ on its own. And if you’re unable to get the help you need from your workmates or employer, reach out to us.

Thankfully, you do have legal rights when it comes to mental health and your workplace, and as a member of HSA, our team of legal and industrial experts can help you when you need it.

Please take care of yourself. If you need immediate help, reach out to Lifeline’s 24/7 crisis support line at 13 11 14.

Be a part of our community.

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Stronger together.

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