Stress and Burnout

a person drowns underwater

Stress & Burnout

Do you feel stressed?

Researchers speak often of three main categories of experience that lead us to be in a state of stress:


*Lack of Information

*Lack of Predictability

*Loss of Control

One doesn’t need to look too far to see how these three factors can apply in many different situations from relationships to the workplace to having a chronic illness. Can you see how your own stressful experiences may fit into one or more of these categories?

An interesting thing about stress is that one person’s stressor is another person’s benign experience. Many psychologists would explain that the reason for this lies in an individual’s outlook on the potentially stressful experience. In other words, the way a person appraises his or her experience will determine whether or not it is experienced as stressful. If you feel that the demands of your situation are greater than your ability to deal with those demands, you will feel stressed.

STRESS = a gap between the demands of the situation and your resources for dealing with the situation.

Nobody enjoys feeling stress, but the effects of it are decidedly more ominous than just ruining your day. In the study of stress, it is clear how the mind and the body are one: every emotion you feel and thought you think produces (and is produced by) something that your body is physically doing. That means that the things that we think and feel have definite physical effects. Stressed thoughts and feelings affect you right down to the cellular level. Do you wonder where your body feels stress? The many cells and tissues in your immune system and endocrine system are especially vulnerable, as are your heart, lungs, skeletal muscles and the emotional centres of your brain. Does that make you want to address the stress in your life?


Those under a great deal of stress risk BURNOUT. You may be experiencing burnout if you feel:

**Physically exhausted. Are you tired much of the time?

**Emotionally exhausted. Do you feel impatient, moody, easily frustrated?

**Sick more often than usual. When stress levels are high, your immune system suffers and you’re more vulnerable to minor illnesses (and major ones, if your stress is more chronic). Do you catch every bug going around?

**Like you want to withdraw from your important relationships. Do you feel impatient with people, or feel as though you have less to give?

**Pessimistic. Do you feel that it’s harder to “look on the bright side?”

**Inefficient at work. Are you putting in more hours but getting less done?

While people can be burned out from all kinds of difficult situations such as caring for a loved one who is ill or parenting a challenging family, one of the most common types of burnout comes from workplace experiences.

Are you clear on what is required of you at work? If you’re not sure what’s expected of you, and things aren’t clearly explained, you’re more vulnerable to burnout.

Do you sometimes feel that it’s just not possible to meet the expectations of your boss or your company? If you make a mistake at your job, is there potential for a very serious consequence? The more disastrous the consequences of mistakes, the higher the risk for burnout. Do you feel that you have no personal control in your job? Do you have the responsibility to make things go well without the authority to make decisions for yourself? Do you feel a lack of recognition for the work that you do?

Addressing the role that stress plays for you is incredibly important to your life satisfaction, happiness and physical health. If you recognize yourself in any of what you’ve read above, it is important for you to get help.