By Page Lauer, LMFT
What is the difference between STRESS and BURNOUT? What might you need to know?
Why does it matter?
Consider this information and how it might help you or those you love!
Many of us are experiencing tremendous levels of both stress and burnout (especially with Covid-19 realities and effects). These concepts are often used synonymously or to reference the same experience. While they exist in the same arena, there are some key differences.
Stress, for example, is commonly known as significant tension and is meant to be temporary, not enduring. It is usually experienced as pressure related to specific circumstantial events (i.e. financial deadlines, bad news, getting a new job, illness, etc). Stress inevitably occurs when our physical, mental, or emotional capacity is stretched beyond our comfort level or threshold. Many of us can endure this for a while, similar to a stretched rubber band, and then return to a calmer state as stress resolves. We may even cope well with stress through exercise, quality sleep, relational support, meditation, and activities that rejuvenate us. For those of us that endure stress too long, or do not have stress-relieving coping skills in place, burnout is commonly the result.
Burnout, in contrast, is not temporary and passing in the same way stress is. Burnout is more commonly known as an extended state of distress, fatigue, or breakdown, as a response to enduring excessive stress. Symptoms may include:
Author Sherrie Bourg Carter, blog writer for Psychology Today says, “The difference between stress and burnout is a matter of degree.” She goes on to say that while stress can be seen as temporary over-engagement burnout is can be seen as enduring disengagement. Knowing the difference between stress and burnout can help us take better care of ourselves before burnout becomes our reality. Also, stress is highly responsive to intervention, while burnout takes prolonged care and sometimes professional attention. Check out these strategies to manage our stress before burnout is upon us: