Stress and burnout are very similar in their symptoms and how they can affect our well-being and work-life balance; however, the main difference really comes down to a person’s mindset about their ability to manage and ‘get through’ their stress.
People experiencing stress can maintain a mindset that they have the ability to reclaim control over their commitments, demands, and responsibilities, and believe that once they do this they will feel much better.
People experiencing burnout feel a sense of helplessness that won’t just go away once they get that task done at work or when they go for coffee with a good friend. It is a feeling that persists over time because burnout is a state of mind that builds incrementally over many months, or even years. It is this slow buildup of pressure that makes it difficult for people who experience burnout to believe in the possibility of a positive change in their situation or life in general. Here’s a good way to look at it: If excessive stress feels like you’re drowning in responsibilities, burnout is a sense of being all dried up.
If you are experiencing burnout, here are some steps you can take to address it:
- Ask Yourself “Why?” – The first step is to understand why you’re experiencing the symptoms of burnout.
- Ask for Help – Social contact can be an effective antidote to stress – especially when you are able to talk to someone who will listen to you attentively without any judgment or distraction.
- Care for Your Body – Getting enough physical activity and sleep, staying hydrated, and having at least three balanced meals a day is essential to supporting your mental well-being and to help fight against burnout.
- Reframe Your Perspective – Understand that you can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control how you react and manage different situations. If you want to change something in your life, the first step is to switch your thoughts and reframe how you see your reality.
- Reassess Your Goals – Burnout can occur when you are out of alignment with your values and beliefs. Also, the feeling of frustration, helplessness, and hopelessness that coincide with burnout could be partly attributed to not knowing what your goals are.
- Set Firm Boundaries – Setting boundaries can help mitigate against burnout because you are putting yourself first and establishing limits for what you can and cannot handle or take on.
- Seek Professional Help – If burnout is affecting your ability to function and manage everyday tasks and commitments – such as going to work, eating properly, or socializing – you should get in contact with your family doctor or a mental health professional to receive the help you need to manage burnout and any other related symptoms.