Stress and Burnout and the 7 Simple Ways to Avoid Both

We all have stressful days, right?

Granted, some worse than others, but it is often the result of the modern world we live in.  Research has shown that over 50% of the American population state they encounter some type of stress on a daily basis (I’m actually quite surprised it’s not higher).

Stress is the body’s reaction to increased stimuli.

When you feel stress, your body releases stress hormones, aka Adrenaline.  These stimuli could be someone cutting you off in traffic, the boss telling you the deadline for that project was moved from next week to tomorrow, or all the daily information our brains are asked to process.  BOOM….Adrenaline in action.  You see, stress and it’s hormones aren’t selective.  It can’t tell if the stimuli are the possibility of a car accident or just the latest cliff hanger on your favorite drama series.

We rarely disconnect from the technology that our modern world provides for us.  Our phones are equipped with text messages, emails, and social media, so we can stay up to the moment current on our friends, family, and work relationships.  Then we get home in the evening, and finish the night flipping through the 100+ channels that our cable or satellite provider attempts to entertains us with.

Ancient Memories….Or before cable TV

Does anybody remember the days when TV stations would sign off for the night?  In my hometown, after the last scheduled show, they would play the National Anthem and then we would have white snow on our TV screens until they came back on air the next morning.  That was the universal night owls signal for bedtime.  AAAhhh….the good ole days.

But when does it all become too much?  Can all this stress and constant information processing be harmful to your health?

The answer is: Yes.  It is harmful when the stress turns into burnout.

Burnout is what happens when the body remains in a stressful state and does not have time for a recharge.  It’s when you are running on empty and never stop to refuel.  Just like your car, your engine stops working.   The physical symptoms of burnout can include: low energy, muscle tension or aching, tension headaches, digestive problems, or changes in your sleep.  You can feel inadequate, overwhelmed, bored, frustrated, sad, irritable, or unappreciated.  Severe burnout can lead to signs of depression, withdrawal, erratic emotions, and increased alcohol or food consumption.

However, it is possible to reduce your stress levels and recover from or avoid burnout.

7 Simple Stress Reducers

1.  Unplug!

Turn off your phone, your iPad, your Xbox, your TV….get it!  Just enjoy the quiet time to think and listen to the beautiful sounds around you.

2.  Call a friend

In the moment of stress, call a friend that can laugh with you.  A friend that will allow you to vent for a few minutes, but then make you laugh and forget, even for a moment, about the stressful situation.  Laughter is the best medicine!

3.  Give yourself a reminder of the “good things”.

Remind yourself of the great, supportive friends or family that you have.  The accomplishments that you have made in the recent past.  The way the sky is a beautiful blue today.

If you’re struggling to think of anything, then remind yourself of the good hair day you are having.  Just give yourself something good to focus on!

4.  Take a time out and go outside for a walk.

Getting outside and just taking a short walk can remove you from the immediate stressful situation and reset your thoughts.

5.  Crank up the uplifting, happy tunes!

May I recommend, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams?  I don’t care what kind of genre of music you like, it is impossible to listen to this song and not feel better.

6.  Remember you are only one person.

Remind yourself that you cannot hold the weight of the world on your shoulders.  You may eventually be able to move that mountain, but you will need to do it one shovelful at a time.

7.  Prioritize your To-Do list

You’ll move that mountain more efficiently if you prioritize your to-do list.  This is a twofer since this will also boost your confidence and accomplishment levels.


7 Simple Ways to Avoid Burnout

1.  Schedule regular social activities

Make time for friends, have fun, laugh!  Don’t cancel this!  You deserve this time!

2.  Do something because you want to, not because you have to.

Learn a language, take a class, learn to play an instrument, or pursue a hobby.  Do something for you, because you want to!

3.  Volunteer

Do you have a cause you like to support?  Don’t just send them your yearly donation, give them your time.  Nothing will make you feel more energized, than giving back to your favorite charity or cause.

4.  Ask for help

This may be the hardest thing on the list to do if you are an I’ll-do-it-myself person.  Call it delegation, if that makes it easier for you.  Either way, remember, you are only one person and help isn’t a weakness.

5.  Develop a morning ritual (My personal favorite!)

A morning ritual can help get you started on the right foot.  Instead of jumping out of bed and rushing to work, set your alarm a bit earlier to sit quietly and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea.

For the past few months, I have set my alarm an hour early to drink a cup (or two) of coffee and do whatever I want.  Some mornings, I sit and watch the news; while others can be sitting at the window watching the rain come down while I plan my day.

6.  Stop blaming others and be accountable.

Take control of your own life!  You can begin to see more of the good in your life when you stop blaming others for your situation and start realizing the part you play in it.  This can also jump start your plan to make some changes if you find your current situation is the cause of your burnout.

7.  Write down your own life plan.

Did you get sidetracked somewhere on the journey of life?  Have you forgotten what you wanted out of life?  Are you living your values?  How can you bring all of that back into focus?  Take some time writing down your plan and review it often.  As your life changes, update the plan.


We all have stress, but too much stress leads to burnout, and burnout leads to much bigger physical and mental problems.  Try these tips and let me know how they worked for you!  Or do you have any tips that have worked for you that I didn’t mention?

As always….


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