Burnout or Stress?
This is the fifth in a series of blogs about burnout. Are you experiencing burnout? Or it is stress? Burnout or stress? What’s the difference?!
Burnout may be the RESULT of too much stress, but it isn’t the SAME as too much stress. Stress, by and large, involves TOO MUCH: too many pressures that demand too much of you physically and mentally. However, stressed people can still imagine that if they can just get everything under control, they’ll feel better.
Burnout, on the other hand, is about NOT ENOUGH. Being burned out means feeling empty and mentally exhausted, devoid of motivation, and beyond caring. People experiencing burnout often don’t see any hope of positive change in their situations. If excessive stress is like drowning in responsibilities, burnout is being all dried up. And while you’re usually aware of being under a lot of stress, you don’t always notice burnout when it happens.
The following table Burnout or Stress? makes this clearer:
|Characterised by overengagement||Characterised by disengagement|
|Emotions are overreactive||Emotions are blunted|
|Produces urgency and hyperactivity||Produces helplessness and hopelessness|
|Loss of energy||Loss of motivation, ideals, and hope|
|Leads to anxiety disorders||Leads to detachment and depression|
|Primary damage is physical||Primary damage is emotional|
|May kill you prematurely||May make life seem not worth living|
What causes burnout?
We generally assume that burnout only happens in the workplace but it is important to say that ANYONE who feels overworked and undervalued is at risk for burnout—it can also affect stay-at-home parents coping with all kinds of demands, or indeed anyone in a caring role such as those caring for a sick or elderly relative or partner. And the way we live our lives outside of work can also make us more prone to burnout:
Work related burnout
- Feeling like you have little or no control over your work
- Lack of recognition or reward for good work
- Unclear or overly demanding job expectations
- Doing work that’s monotonous or unchallenging
- Working in a chaotic or high-pressure environment
General lifestyle causes of burnout
- Working too much, without enough time for socialising or relaxing
- Lack of close, supportive relationships
- Taking on too many responsibilities, without enough help from others
- Not getting enough sleep
And just a final note – some particular personality traits can contribute to burnout…
- Perfectionistic tendencies where you set very high standards for yourself and others and feel nothing is ever good enough
- Glass half-full – having a pessimistic view of yourself and the world
- The need to be in control in the workplace (or in a caring situation) together with a reluctance to delegate to others
Need some advice and support?
If you are struggling with any of the issues raised in this article, or indeed any other emotional issues or life challenges and would like to talk things over in complete confidentiality, call Alison Winfield, Mindfully Well Counselling Cork on 087 9934541.
Book a counselling session today!