What is Stress?
Stress is a physiological and psychological response to perceived threats or challenges. It is a normal and natural part of life, and in small doses, stress can actually be beneficial by helping to motivate and energise individuals to take action and achieve their goals. However, when stress becomes chronic or overwhelming, it can have negative effects on physical and mental health, relationships, and overall quality of life.
What Causes Stress?
Stress can be caused by a variety of factors, including work or school pressures, financial difficulties, family problems, health issues, and major life changes. The way in which individuals perceive and respond to stress can also vary widely.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is a state of chronic stress that is characterised by physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. It can occur when an individual is exposed to prolonged periods of stress, particularly in work or caregiving settings. Burnout can cause individuals to feel emotionally and physically drained, cynical or detached from their work or responsibilities, and a sense of reduced accomplishment or productivity.
What Causes Burnout?
Burnout is often caused by a combination of factors, including excessive workload, unrealistic expectations, lack of control or autonomy, poor workplace communication or support, and a lack of work-life balance. It can also be exacerbated by personal factors such as perfectionism, self-doubt, and lack of self-care.
Stress & Burnout Can Be Linked To Other Mental Health Issues
Stress and burnout can have negative consequences on an individual’s physical and mental health, including increased risk for cardiovascular disease, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. It can also impact an individual’s relationships and overall quality of life. Early recognition and management of stress and burnout is important in preventing more severe and long-lasting effects.
Prolonged stress and burnout can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion, making it harder to cope with daily tasks and responsibilities. This can contribute to feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness, which are common symptoms of depression.
Depression and anxiety
Chronic stress can also affect the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine, which are responsible for regulating mood and emotions. Imbalances in these neurotransmitters can contribute to the development of anxiety and depression.
Burnout can lead to social withdrawal and isolation, which can increase the risk of developing anxiety and depression. Social support is crucial for maintaining mental health, and when we feel disconnected from others, it can contribute to feelings of loneliness and depression.
Physical health problems
Chronic stress and burnout can also lead to physical health problems, such as insomnia, headaches, and digestive issues. These physical symptoms can further exacerbate stress and contribute to the development of mental health issues.
Types of Stress & Burnout
While stress and burnout can be general experiences, contributed to by a variety of factors, there can be specific types of stress and burnout that a person can be experiencing:
Acute stress is a brief and intense form of stress that occurs in response to a specific event or situation. Examples include getting into a car accident or preparing for a job interview.
Chronic stress is a long-term form of stress that persists over time and is often caused by ongoing problems, such as financial difficulties, relationship problems, or job-related stressors.
Work-related stress can be caused by various factors, such as a heavy workload, long hours, high job demands, or a toxic work environment.
Work stresses, such as excessive workload, lack of support or recognition, or a poor work-life balance, can then lead to what we call burnout, causing a feeling of complete exhaustion.
Caregiver burnout can be experienced by individuals who provide care for others, such as parents caring for young children, or adult children caring for ageing parents.
Academic burnout can be experienced by students who are under significant academic pressure, such as preparing for exams, and completing assignments. Both students and academics can experience burnout due to the pressure to succeed, workload, and lack of work-life balance.
Relationship burnout occurs when relationships are strained due to conflict, neglect, or abuse. It can lead to emotional exhaustion, lack of motivation, and a sense of hopelessness.
Artists, writers, and other creative professionals can experience burnout due to the pressure to produce work consistently. It can be caused by creative block, lack of inspiration, and self-doubt.
How Can Stress & Burnout Be Minimised or Avoided?
One of the most critical strategies for preventing burnout is to practice self-care. Taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental health is crucial for avoiding burnout. This includes getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. By prioritising self-care, you can improve your overall well-being and reduce the likelihood of experiencing burnout.
Setting realistic goals is another effective way to minimise stress and avoid burnout. By breaking down large tasks into smaller, more manageable steps and focusing on one task at a time, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
Learning to say no to additional responsibilities and commitments is essential for managing stress and avoiding burnout. Setting boundaries and prioritising your well-being is crucial for maintaining a healthy balance between work and personal life.
Talking to friends, family, or a mental health professional can provide emotional support and help you manage stress. Additionally, practicing stress-reduction techniques like mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can help reduce stress and promote relaxation.
Taking regular breaks throughout the day is another effective way to minimise stress and avoid burnout. Short walks, stretching, or simply stepping away from your work can help reduce stress and improve focus. Prioritising time with loved ones, hobbies, and activities that bring you joy outside of work can also be highly beneficial for maintaining a healthy work-life balance and preventing burnout.
PLEASE NOTE: We do not offer bulk billing.
Before you book your appointment to see a psychologist, it is important to consider the costs involved. This will help you to weigh your options and make the right decision for you and your health. Patients with a referral/mental health care plan from a GP will be eligible to claim a rebate from Medicare. We accept direct deposit or credit card/debit cards.
To suit your individual needs and preferences, sessions with a psychologist can be spaced weekly, fortnightly, or monthly.
For more information about costs, inquire at Pynk Health.
What Are The Signs of Stress & Burnout?
Stress and burnout can display differently per person, as everyone can respond to stress in their own ways. Common signs that you may be stressed or burnt-out can include:
- Constant fatigue and lack of energy
- Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
- Chronic headaches or migraines
- Anxiety or depression
- Increased irritability or mood swings
- Lack of focus or concentration
- Memory problems or forgetfulness
- Decreased job satisfaction or sense of accomplishment
- Reduced motivation or interest in work or activities
- Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or tobacco
- Physical symptoms such as muscle tension, stomach issues, or rapid heartbeat
- Feeling overwhelmed or hopeless
- Avoidance of social situations or withdrawal from friends and family
- Inability to relax or enjoy leisure time
- Decreased productivity or performance at work or school
You don’t have to be experiencing all-of-the-above to be struggling with stress or burnout. If you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed and exhausted, our team at Pynk Health encourage you to seek support, regardless of how many of these signs you think you have.
How Can Stress & Burnout Be Treated?
An effective treatment for stress and burnout is cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT is a type of talk therapy that helps individuals identify negative thought patterns and behaviours that contribute to stress and burnout. By learning new coping skills and developing healthy ways of managing stress, individuals can improve their overall well-being and reduce symptoms of stress and burnout.
Mindfulness-based therapies are another effective treatment for stress and burnout. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a type of therapy that focuses on teaching individuals how to be present in the moment, observe their thoughts and feelings without judgment, and develop greater self-awareness. This can help individuals reduce stress and improve their overall well-being. Joining a support group, either in person or online, can provide emotional support and help individuals manage stress and burnout. Sharing experiences and connecting with others who are going through similar struggles can be a valuable source of support and encouragement.
Sometimes, medication may be necessary to treat stress and burnout. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can be helpful in managing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions that often co-occur with stress and burnout.
Making lifestyle changes can also be an effective way to treat stress and burnout. Reducing work hours, taking regular breaks, and prioritising self-care can help individuals manage stress and prevent burnout. Developing healthy habits, such as getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly, can improve overall well-being and reduce stress levels.