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How stress and burnout are bad for your mental health

For many people, there is not enough time to devote to everything we want to accomplish in a given day. Because of this, it is easy to overcommit and invest a lot of our energy into attempting to get as much done as we possibly can. As a result, it’s easy to experience a buildup of stress that may lead to burnout.

Burnout is an accumulation of unaddressed emotions and a symptom of extreme stress, which is the body’s response to expected or unexpected loss or change. The most significant difference between stress and burnout is that there is an end date with stress if it is managed, but you cannot experience burnout without stress. Symptoms of burnout can vary but it is typically a more emotional reaction. Some symptoms include feeling stuck, overwhelmed, unmotivated, disengaged, detached, disconnected or a depressive sign of feeling hopeless.

Suppose burnout and stress begin impacting your daily life function. In that case, it poses risks of both mental health and physical health issues such as generalized anxiety disorder, depression, chronic fatigue, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and more. It is important to notice how you feel and know the signs of stress and burnout to help you better manage it in the future.

  • Time management. As devoted students, employees, friends or family members, we tend to overcommit and invest a lot of our time to make everything perfect. Consider your time, see where you might be overdoing it and make some adjustments. Set boundaries and learn to value your time to be with yourself.
  • Reflective journaling. Use this tool to identify and recognize your stress and notice the areas in your life that might need a change. You might see places that need more attention, like your sleep schedule or other obligations.
  • Mindfulness. Practice relaxation and deep breathing techniques to help you maintain peace. Mindfulness is not limited to meditation, and it can be a healing time for your mental health. Utilize mindfulness to focus your energy on the present. When stressed, we tend to focus on the past and future more than we do on the present.
  • Seeking support. Find a support system through friends or family to help maintain your awareness. Ask for help in the areas where you might be experiencing burnout, such as asking your supervisor for help at work or setting boundaries with family members. Talk with a therapist to help you manage your feelings and strengthen your skills.

Once you identify your stressors and where your burnout is coming from, you can learn to set boundaries and make yourself a priority. Setting aside time for yourself is necessary to be healthy and do well in other areas of your life. If you have tried to minimize your stress or motivate yourself but are still struggling, it may be time to reach out to a mental health professional. They can provide more tools to manage your time, cope with your feelings and empower you to set boundaries.

Kala Hight is a therapist at Centerstone, a nonprofit health system specializing in mental health and substance use disorder services. For more information, visit Centerstone.org or call 1-877-HOPE123.

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