What is burnout, and how can we avoid it?

August 23, 2017

By Brian Maynor



Stress and burnout are often viewed synonymously, but they are actually very different.  Burnout is much worse.

Pressure, long hours, crisis management and generally too much to do are classic symptoms of stress.  Burnout happens when those symptoms lead to emotional exhaustion, cynicism and lack of confidence in your abilities.

So if stress leads to burnout, how can we safeguard ourselves from ever reaching that point?

Here are a few of the most healthy, and effective ways to both deal with mounting stress and staving off a burnout:

1.   Stop adding to the stress in our lives.  Whether we realize it or not, many of us create stress to our lives by merely thinking about what we might face in the future.  This is especially true for perfectionists.  When we recognize this tendency we can actually control it.  There is enough stress in our lives already; we certainly don’t need to create more.

2.    Acknowledge our limitations.  We all have strengths that allow us to excel in a variety of areas, but we also have limitations.  Acknowledging and accepting them is a huge step in decreasing stress.  When we realize our limitations we can remove the pressure and stress associated with them by asking for help.  Bringing in support and advisors is always a great way to cope with stress.

3.    Shift our perspective of the situation.  Sometimes changing how we view a situation is all it takes to decrease our stress levels.  When we’re faced with a perceived challenge or threat our natural reaction is distress; extreme anxiety, sorry or pain.  However, when we are faced with a challenge ou natural response is eustress; moderate psychological stress interpreted as beneficial.  It’s amazing that this mental shift completely changes how our bodies react to the same set of circumstances.

4.    Deescalate conflicts.  It’s no surprise that conflicts are stressful, and a frequent contributor to burnout.  That means we should take every opportunity to resolve them as quickly as possible.  Our initial response to a conflict is to defend ourselves, but that often just exacerbates the problem.  The better option is to ask questions and listen to the other person’s position.  This gives us time to collect ourselves and better understand how to resolve the conflict effectively for everyone.

5.    Remember to breathe.  Taking deep breaths is a proven mindfulness practice to lower our heart rate and decrease tension when we are faced with stress.  It’s not always easy to focus on breathing, but attention is the ultimate act of self-control.

Everyone faces stress in their lives, but not everyone gets burned out.  Understanding and practicing these tips will help insure you don’t either.

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I am always curious to hear from you.  Send your questions, comments and pet peeves to [email protected].  Also find each of these storyborads at http://brianmaynor.polyvore.com with links to purchase each item.