What Is Burnout? Can Nootropics Help?

Written by Angie Arriesgado
featured image for article on using nootropics for burnout

There’s no escaping workplace stress. No matter what field of work you’re in, even if you’re passionate about the job, there’s always a risk of experiencing burnout. In this blog post, we’ll talk about this increasingly common occupational phenomenon. More importantly, we’ll find out if nootropics – like our very own Soy-Free Phosphatidylserine – can help!

What is burnout? Is it the same as stress?

It’s easy to mistake stress for burnout. But they’re not the same thing. Everyone experiences stress, but not everyone will experience burnout.

Stress per se isn’t actually all that bad. It’s even beneficial in some cases. But only the “good” kind of stress (a.k.a. eustress).

Eustress can get the brain firing on all cylinders. It’s also a good motivator in the workplace. It can harness your energy and mental capabilities to focus on a particular task (maybe there’s a deadline coming up).

As for the “bad” kind of stress? Well, we can all do away with that, that’s for sure! Unmanaged “bad” stress can become chronic and cause burnout, which is why…

The World Health Organization defines burnout as an “occupational phenomenon brought about by unmanaged chronic stress in the workplace”.

Burnout isn’t classified as a medical condition, but anyone showing the following symptoms may be on their way to experiencing full-blown burnout (1):

  • Feelings of utter and complete exhaustion
  • Apathy and indifference to the job and its outcomes
  • Loss of motivation leading to reduced productivity and efficacy

Who’s at risk of getting burnt out?

According to the American Psychological Association, caretaking professions like healthcare workers and teachers are “uniquely prone to high rates of burnout”. But really, anyone who’s overworked and undervalued for an extended period is at risk of feeling burnt out.

Does burnout happen overnight?

No, it doesn’t. There are several stages of burnout, which can happen progressively over a period of weeks, months, and even years until you finally reach your breaking point (the last stage).

Let’s break down how the whole thing happens (2):

When you’re still new at the job, you’re excited to prove to your teammates and bosses that they picked the right person for the job. You start out with a lot of enthusiasm. You’re practically overflowing with ideas. You work hard every day, seeking validation and recognition.

Then you start feeling stressed and overwhelmed, but still push through with the work-comes-first mindset. You start sacrificing rest days and push away those closest to you. Sooner or later, the stress gets to you and cracks begin to appear, but you still deny there’s a problem.

This negative turn of events starts to escalate. You feel empty, lost, tired, and maybe even depressed. Escaping or avoiding your problems doesn’t work anymore. You feel mentally and emotionally broken inside. No matter what you do, you can no longer muster the energy or enthusiasm to do your job. At this point, you’ve hit the proverbial wall. You’re burnt out.  

What are the main causes of burnout?

Burnout is a personal experience. The factors that may cause you to burn out may not affect other people the same way. Perhaps they react to stress differently, or they’re able to maintain a positive outlook in life, or they have a strong support system.

To give you an idea of how varied the reasons for burnout are, here are the results of a survey done on 250+ software engineers in the UK (3):

  • High workload (47%)
  • Personal life (36%)
  • Inefficient processes (31%)
  • Unclear goals and targets (29%)
  • Lack of communication from team or management (27%)
  • Management putting unrealistic demands on me (25%)

Majority of the reasons given are related to work – too much workload, inefficient processes, unclear goals, and poor management. But over a third of respondents gave personal life as the reason for burnout. This is interesting because it may mean that these employees have trouble maintaining work-life balance. 

Can nootropics help with burnout?

People experiencing low productivity at work and having trouble focusing on their workflow may benefit greatly from taking nootropics! Nootropics are also known as smart drugs, cognitive enhancers, intelligence boosters, and brain vitamins.

But what makes a “nootropic” a nootropic? Corneliu Giurgea, the psychologist who coined the term, says these are the characteristics of nootropics (4):

  • Nootropics enhance memory and learning
  • They help improve natural cognitive function
  • They help protect the brain from both chemical and physical injuries
  • Must be safe and non-toxic and have very few side effects
  • They enhance the resistance of learned behaviors or memories to disruptive conditions

Various nootropics have different effects on the body. For instance, some compounds may have a more pronounced effect on memory, while others may be more helpful in the energy and productivity department. Others may help enhance mood, sleep, and relaxation.

phosphatidylserine is a natural nootropic that may help prevent burnout

As you can see, all these different benefits of nootropics may go a long way towards alleviating the biggest signs of burnout – complete exhaustion, indifference, and lack of motivation!

We recommend single-ingredient nootropics for beginners, such as:

This product is soy-free and made from sunflower lecithin. Phosphatidylserine is found in every cell membrane in the body. In fact, half of the body’s store of phosphatidylserine is found in the brain. By supplementing with phosphatidylserine, you’re giving your brain what it needs to function well!

For this product, we extract the bioactive compounds from the fruiting bodies of the mushroom (other brands use mycelia which produces a lot of starch!). One of these important compounds is called Hericenones, which help stimulate the Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). NGF is vital to our well-being because it promotes the growth of new neurons and repairs damaged neurons, too.

More tips to prevent burnout and stay motivated in the workplace

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. In addition to taking nootropics, take note of these tips to avoid getting burnt out at work:

1)   Recognize the signs!

It’s easier to treat something when you know what to look for. In addition to the 3 symptoms described by the WHO – complete exhaustion, apathy, and zero motivation – here are some other signs of burnout (5):  

  • Personality change – you’re more irritable and impatient with everyone. You’re becoming more cynical and more negative, maybe even depressed.
  • Diet change – you’re either eating more junk or losing your appetite altogether.
  • Sleep habits change – stress and anxiety cause you to overthink even in bed, affecting sleep quality. You may also not want to get out of bed at all.
  • Physical symptoms – frequent headaches, gut issues, lowered immunity.
  • Unhealthy coping mechanisms – smoking too much, taking drugs and/or alcohol.
  • Reduced performance at work – you were a star, but now everyone’s complaining about your work.

2)   Create boundaries

Whether you work at home or at the office, clock in flexible hours or follow a set schedule, it’s important to establish a clear boundary between work and home life. An always-on and always-available mindset may endear you to your colleagues, but it won’t be good for you in the long run.  

3)   Exercise can help

Regular exercise can do a lot of wonders for your physical, mental, and emotional health! You can exercise at home, in the office, in the gym, or anywhere, really. You can spend as much money as you want on fancy equipment or keep it simple by doing body-weight exercises and using whatever’s on hand! Just know your physical limitations though so you don’t get injured in the process.

4)   Develop social life outside of work

It’s important to have a life outside the office. If your social circle only consists of people you work with, then it’s much harder to create boundaries and achieve that work-life balance. Join a club or community that caters to your hobbies and interests. It will be something to look forward to on your days off!

5)   Look for a new job

Depending on your finances and the current job market, this is probably easier said than done. But if you’re no longer happy with your current job, and you think no amount of intervention will make you change your mind, then maybe it’s time to look for a new job. Your mental health must come first!


It’s not just the highflyers and workaholics who are at risk of getting burnt out in the workplace. Everyone is! It’s normal to feel stressed and anxious at work, but don’t let your job consume your every waking moment. Hopefully, the tips we’ve shared above, including taking nootropics to help with mental clarity, will help you make the right decisions to avoid burnout.  


(1) “Burn-out an ‘Occupational Phenomenon’: International Classification of Diseases.” World Health Organization, 28 May 2019, www.who.int/news/item/28-05-2019-burn-out-an-occupational-phenomenon-international-classification-of-diseases.

(2) Stillman, Jessica. “The 12 Stages of Burnout, According to Psychologists.” Inc.Com, 5 Jan. 2021, www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/the-12-stages-of-burnout-according-to-psychologist.html.

(3) Ali, Junade, and Junade Ali. “83% of Developers Suffer From Burnout, Haystack Analytics Study Finds.” Haystack, www.usehaystack.io/blog/83-of-developers-suffer-from-burnout-haystack-analytics-study-finds. Accessed 13 July 2022.

(4) Giurgea, Corneliu E. “The Nootropic Concept and Its Prospective Implications.” Drug Development Research, vol. 2, no. 5, 1982, pp. 441–46. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1002/ddr.430020505.

(5) “How to Watch for Signs of Burnout in Your Life.” Verywell Mind, 23 May 2022, www.verywellmind.com/stress-and-burnout-symptoms-and-causes-3144516.