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Stress & Burnout

Updated: Feb 14, 2023

Isn't being exhausted just a part of growing up? It is now commonly accepted that working life, especially full-time work, goes hand-in-hand with being exhausted and drained.

What is burnout?

Burnout has been defined as including three key dimensions: overwhelming exhaustion; feelings of cynicism and detachment from one’s job; and a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. It saps your energy, leaving you feeling like you have nothing left to give and causes long-term changes to your body that lower your immune system leaving you with little left in the tank. It can impact your hormone production which influences menstruation, sleep patterns, metabolism, emotional regulation and oh so much more.

It occurs when you feel like you are emotionally drained, overwhelmed and unable to meet the constant demands of life and you begin to lose interest and motivation in your work and things that normally bring you joy. No matter how much sleep you get you never quite feel fully recharged or like yourself. The cycle continues with adding stimulants such as caffeine, sugary drinks, alcohol and processed food just to get you through the day only to leave your body exhausted and depleted at night, but too stimulated to get a restful sleep.

Am I on the road to burn out?

You may be on the road to burnout or already there if:

  • Everyday is a bad day

  • You are exhausted all the time

  • You feel like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated

  • Caring about your work or home life seems like a total waste of energy

Physical signs
  • Feeling tired and drained most of the time

  • Lowered immunity, frequent illness

  • Frequent headaches or muscle pain

  • Change in appetite or sleep habits

Emotional Signs
  • Sense of failure and self-doubt

  • Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated

  • Detachment, feeling alone in the world

  • Increasingly cynical and negative outlook

  • You feel like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated

Behavioural Signs
  • Withdrawing from responsibilities

  • Isolating yourself from others

  • Procrastinating, taking longer to get things done

  • Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope

  • Taking out your frustrations on others

  • Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early

What Can I Do About It?

Whether you recognize the warning signs of impending burnout or you’re already past the breaking point, trying to push through the exhaustion and continuing as you have been will only cause further emotional and physical damage.Now is the time to pause and change direction by learning how you can help yourself reconnect back into the person that you are. Dealing with burnout requires the “Three R” approach: Recognize, Reverse, Resilience.


Build a relationship with your body so that you can recognise when there is a change. Know the signs and symptoms of burn out and watch for red flags in your behaviour. Listen to others if they notice a change in your behaviour for it can be hard to notice the changes in ourselves.


Build your resilience to stress by equipping yourself with more tools and skills to be able to learn and cope with different situations in the future.


Reverse the symptoms by managing stress with things such as:

  • Accepting responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining stress. This includes physical things such as diet, sleep and exercise as well as emotional things such as coping mechanisms.

  • Connecting with others and express how you are feeling. This could be a counsellor, friend or family member.

  • Identifying stress in the moment so that you are able to nominate the source of the stressor and not internalise it.

Stress is the disparity between our thoughts, feelings and expectations and the reality of what we find ourselves in.

What can I do about being stressed?

There are many different types of stress so by nominating which variant supports you to understand why it is there in the first place. Stress is the disparity between our thoughts, feelings and expectations and the reality of what we find ourselves in. To put it simply it is the difference between the pictures of how we want life to be and reality. Stress factors broadly fall into four types or categories: physical stress, psychological stress, psychosocial stress, and psycho-spiritual stress. This contributes to an underlying level of unrest that then compounds any environmental factors from the outside. Expressing how you are feeling and openly communicating about what is going on for you may be supportive in understanding the whole picture about why you are feeling stressed in the first place. Really looking at lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise, and work-life balance can go a long way in supporting your body to be able to cope with the demands that life is asking from you.


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