Stress and Burnout: What You Can Do to Overcome It

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Bang! Bang!

You are sitting quietly in your apartment scrolling your Twitter feed without a care in the world. And then suddenly without any warning…

Bang! Bang!

You hear a deafening sound behind you.

In a matter of seconds, your heart rate will spike above a hundred. Know that feeling? Hold that thought for a moment.

Now, remember when you were preparing for that exam and discovered you had several materials untouched at the last minute? How did that feel? Yeah! It’s a full-on panic mode. Throbbing headache, pounding heart, parched lips, sweaty palms. The works.

Imagine that feeling like that every day of a month. And then every month for a year. That is what chronic stress looks like. 

How Stress Leads to Burnout

We all get stressed. However, when stress becomes protracted. That is a significant problem. The body has no inbuilt mechanism to handle perpetual stress, and burnout soon follows. 

As the World Health Organization (2019) defines it, burnout is characterized by three dimensions

  • Emotional exhaustion: Drained of all energy, both physical and emotional, you feel like a battery perpetually empty. Even the simplest tasks seem like scaling Mount Everest.
  • Cynicism and negativity: The joy you once found in your work evaporates, replaced by pervasive cynicism and detachment. Everything feels pointless, and your passion crumbles to dust.
  • Reduced professional efficacy: Your once-sharp focus turns blurry, and productivity plummets. Deadlines become ominous shadows, and tasks remain unfinished, mocking your dwindling motivation.

Handling Stress and Burnout


Burnout isn’t a badge of honour for overachievers; it’s a warning sign. Anyone, regardless of profession or personality, can succumb to its scorching touch if exposed to unrelenting stress. So, before your inner flame sputters out, recognize what it is doing to you and seek professional help. If that doesn’t make you feel comfortable, here are a few things you can also do

#1 Inhale Peace, Exhale Stress

Naturally, with stress, you’ll start to take shallow fast breaths to compensate for the feelings of exhaustion. When you consciously slow down and take deep breaths, you activate the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for resting, boosting your mood and reducing stress. 

If you take a few minutes every day to deliberately take deep, slow breaths, you can begin to experience calm and significantly less stress.

#2 Move

Get active. The more you move, the more your body will release “feel-good’ hormones that’ll make you happier. You’ll also get to release all the pent-up energy in your body. If you can’t hit the gym or the tracks, you can do push-ups in your bedroom and skip in your corridor. 

#3 Positive thinking

Instead of seeing your cup as half-empty, see it as half-full. Often, there’s a bright side that stress won’t allow you to see. Find that last glimmer of hope and hold on to it. Practising positive self-talk and staying around people who exude positivity is quite helpful.

#4 Get social support

You may want to lean towards your friends, family, and even religious community to help weather this storm. If you’ve learned how to build strong relationships, you can use their help to find your way when you’re about to lose it.

You’ve Got This

Remember, stress isn’t a life sentence. It’s a bully you can outsmart. By recognizing its red flags, proactively building coping mechanisms like deep breathing, movement, and positivity, and leaning on a strong support system, you can reclaim your inner peace and prevent burnout from dimming your flame. So, take a deep breath, step away from the stressors, and choose to create a life where calm, not chaos, reigns supreme.

What other ways do you manage stress and burnout?

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