What is The Difference Between Stress And Burnout?

Published on 07/12/2019


Have you ever felt like you’re nearing the point where you just can’t take anymore? You might feel like you’re about to burst on the inside, your brain is feeling completely overwhelmed and your heart is going too fast much of the time.

This could be either stress, or it could be burnout. 

Understanding the difference is key if you want to know how to deal with it in the right way. 

Within an office environment, we spend a huge amount of time sitting at our desks trying to hit deadlines and targets. Some of these deadlines and targets are simply unachievable, but that doesn’t stop us from trying! Piling more and more pressure on yourself simply causes you to feel stressed out, which then has a number of detrimental effects on the mind and body

When stress becomes too much, it can become fatal. 

That might sound like an overreaction, but it’s far from it. Stress places a huge amount of stress on the heart, which can then cause the potential for heart attacks, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, the list goes on, and none of it is positive!

What is Workplace Stress?

Put simply, work stress is when we feel like we can’t cope with our workload, situations in the workplace, or we feel like we’re being pushed to limits which we simply can’t reach. Stress can occur as a result of home life problems, relationships, money, anything really, but workplace stress is certainly one of the main issues in the modern-day

Understanding the different causes of stress in the workplace is key if you want to try and manage your stress levels and hopefully avoid stress occurring in the first place. Despite that, a little pressure can be a good thing; it helps you to become motivated to hit targets that are within reach. When a target is unrealistic however you don’t have a hope of reaching it, which is when stress can occur. 

What is Burnout?

Burnout is slightly different from stress, but stress can certainly lead to burn out. 

Check out this infographic which outlines the main differences between the two terms. 

Source - https://www.gnapartners.com/article/stress-vs-burnout/

As you can see, burnout is a result of too much stress and it leads to emotionally-based issues which can manifest even further. In this case, you’re heading towards anxiety and depression. 

Mental exhaustion is not something you should take lightly. This isn’t a case of just being tired or feeling a little lacking in energy, it’s the point where you just can’t do a thing more. You don’t care, you don’t want to care, and anything and everything around you is of no interest to you anymore. 

Whilst you’re collaborating at work, perhaps around the boardroom tables or attempting come up with new ideas alongside colleagues in the office booths, it’s easy to feel like you’re not enough. It’s very easy to feel like everything is getting on top of you and you’re expected to perform miracles every day. 

We need to take the pressure off ourselves and understand that at the end of the day, we’re all human! Management also needs to think about stress management in the workplace as a priority. This involves giving stress management training to employees and also ensuring that roles and targets are specifically matched to the time available and the ability and experience of the individual employee. 

It’s easy to laugh off work stress as something we all need to deal with, but that’s not the case at all. Yes, a little stress is motivating and normal, but too much stress, leading to the point of burnout is extremely unhealthy and not something you should be inviting into your life by choice. Management also needs to be on the lookout for situations which could cause stress to become a major issue. 

It’s hard to really understand how to monitor stress levels in the workplace, but it’s something which should at least be attempted. Open lines of communication are the best way to do that and having a workplace with no stigma attached to feeling stressed. The more we’re open about how we’re feeling, the less chance stress has to get its claws into the way we’re feeing!

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