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Stress and Burnout

Written by Abdullah

Stress and burnout are two seemingly similar things, but of course, they have a lot of differences. Stress is not uncommon in students, employees, and even older adults who seem to have their lives sorted out. Burnout is also common and has been recently recognized by the World Health Organization as a common occupational phenomenon. Because both of these things are quite common for everyone, we need to understand the difference between them. It is important to do so because whenever it happens to us, we would know how to treat either of them the right way.

In this article, we will be looking at a number of differences between stress and burnout. As mentioned above, these two can be similar to each other, which can be confusing. With the recent emphasis on mental health, it is important to understand these conditions better. So, if you feel like you are stressed or have any other symptoms related to stress, this might be the perfect article for you to find out what is up with your mental health. However, understand that this article is in no way an alternative for a mental health professional. So if you feel like you have a serious issue, contact a therapist as soon as possible.

For now, let’s look at some of the differences and similarities between stress and burnout.

What is Stress?

Stress is usually a natural response to everyday life and how we go on with things. For example, if you have a huge test or exam coming up or you are going through a tough phase in life, you might experience a lot of stress. 60% of the population of the US says that they go through daily stress constantly. With that, we can conclude that it is pretty common for everyone to have situations of stress every once in a while. In simple words, stress is the natural ability of your body to respond to any kind of pressure, whether it be external or internal. It is a signal that you need to set things right.

In theory, just enough amount of stress can be beneficial. This is because it can prepare you for both positive and negative challenges that you will be facing in life. It lets you know that there is an issue that you have to resolve. So, it isn’t exactly a negative emotion at all times. In a lot of cases, stress can help you become a better person and more alert about your goals. But it isn’t to say that too much stress is healthy.

Too much stress can make you feel overwhelmed. This causes you to be unable to cope with any difficult changes going on in your life. When stress reaches this stage, it can be extremely harmful to you. It can hinder your daily life heavily and can cause burnout in the long run. You might feel anxiety and have mood swings when you are going through a phase of being stressed. You might have fatigue and have a loss of motivation and hope. Stress can cause a lack of motivation and a tendency to forget things. You go through physiological changes when your body is going through stress.


Burnout, on the other hand, is more severe than stress. How it works is that if you are subject to constant stress and you do not handle it correctly, it might lead to chronic stress. Chronic stress can give rise to a lot of health conditions like burnout, depression, and anxiety. When you do not manage your stress in the correct way, burnout is very likely to happen. It is also considered a phenomenon that occurs because of exposure to prolonged distress. Burnout, however, mostly happens because of problems at work, but it can occur due to any reason. Anywhere in life where prolonged stress is present, you are more likely to get affected by burnout.

However, chronic stress doesn’t always mean that you will have burnout. If you don’t manage your stress, burnout can happen, but you can also become better by handling your stress in a better way. Both stress and burnout can have a lot of similar symptoms, such as headaches, changes in sleep patterns, a weakened immune system, body aches, pains, fatigue, and mental fog. When you are continuously exposed to stress, a lot of these symptoms can worsen over time.

When you are going through burnout, you might have other more serious physical and mental symptoms as well, such as hypertension, impatience, and depression. You may also experience chronic exhaustion. People who are going through burnout often complain about a lack of physical energy and feelings of being bored and cynical feelings about work. Your job commitment in burnout can be virtually zero, and most complaints and changes you go through during burnout are psychosomatic.

Stress and burnout are both very serious phenomena. They need to be understood first if we are to treat them correctly. In this article, we mentioned a few symptoms of stress and burnout and saw how they have a number of similarities and differences between them. We hope that with the help of this article, you are able to understand stress and burnout much better.

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