Stress…We all know what this is, don’t we. Whether it is happening today, or whether it happened last week, emotional stress seems to be part of the landscape. If intense stress has been going on for a while, we might admit to feeling “stressed out.” But when does stressed out become burnout?
Can we detect warning signs of burnout, before it’s too late?
Stress differs from burnout.
Chronic stress – stress that goes on for months or even years - can exaggerate mood swings, leaving us short-tempered and hard to live with when our “hot buttons” are triggered. Chronic stress impacts how we deal with personal relationships, including spouse, partner, kids, parents, coworkers or even checkout clerks.
Stress keeps us awake at night with worries that don’t go away. It seems as though everything needs to be done at once. Tasks become hard to prioritize, and they all seem important. Often we respond by trying to do more, working harder, longer with the hope this effort will free up time.
Chronic stress harms health.
It increases women’s risks of diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, stroke, anxiety, depression and perhaps premature aging. It can worsen pain, and symptoms of fibromyalgia and IBS. The immune system takes a hit.
Burnout – a different beast from chronic stress.
Burnout is stress pushed to the limits. Burnout stands as the far end of the stress spectrum. It is so treacherous because women may reach the end of their endurance without consciously knowing it.
You may be experiencing burnout if:
o Every day seems hopeless and problems seem insoluble – every day is a “bad” day
o The sense of guilt and failure seem overwhelming
o Motivation goes out the window
o You feel helpless and used up. Dreams and hopes vanish
o You feel detached and depressed. – “Who cares, what difference does it make?”
Women experiencing burnout do worse emotionally, financially and physically. Burnout is related to emotional eating, uncontrolled eating, pain and depression and women who are burned out are more at risk for illness and depression.
Are You at Risk for Burnout? [Part II] .... coming soon!