Stress vs. Burnout

30/08/2020 1 By indiafreenotes

Burnout may be as a result of excessive stress but they do not mean the same thing. Burnout is a cycle of negative emotions, paralysis and withdrawal. It is the body’s response to putting too much effort into something without taking in what you require to restore yourself. It is mental, emotional and physical exhaustion that leads to diminished interest in performing tasks.

Physical symptoms of burnout include having low energy, headaches, muscle tension, digestive disorders, frequent colds and changes in one’s sleep patterns. Its mental symptoms include feeling sad, inadequate, frustrated, unappreciated and irritable. These symptoms can result in withdrawal, accidents, increased sick days and crying. One may increase their consumption of food or alcohol to soothe themselves.

Stress on the other hand, involves too many pressures that demand too much from you either physically or psychologically. Stressed people though can still see a light at the end of the tunnel, they just often can’t figure a way to get to it.

Stress is just a day-to-day experience but burnout is a more serious consequence of the build-up of too much stress which causes the individual person to shut down.

If stress persists on a full scale for a long period of time, there are increased risks of burnout. Although stress is an essential pre-requisite for burnout, burnout is not necessarily the result of too much stress. For burnouts to occur there must be an additional psychological factor.

People who are stressed can often still function and do all that the tasks or jobs required of them. This is due to the fact that different people can bear different levels of stress for different lengths of time. This is quite a contrast to people experiencing a burnout. Burnout most times leads to a total shutdown of all systems in the body and it causes a person to become completely nonfunctional. Burnout causes people to experience long-term exhaustion and diminished interest in life as a whole.


  • It is characterized by disengagement
  • The person’s emotions are blunted
  • It gives one a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness
  • It makes one lose motivation, ideals, and hope
  • It leads to detachment and depression
  • Its primary damage is emotional


  • It is characterized by over engagement
  • The person’s emotions are over reactive
  • It gives one a feeling of urgency and hyperactivity
  • It leads to loss of energy